Plight of Abandoned Indian Women in Non Resident Indian Marriages: A Critical Analysis

29 Pages Posted: 3 May 2016

See all articles by Anuradha Chadha

Anuradha Chadha

Department of Laws, Guru Nanak Dev University Regional Campus

Date Written: May 3, 2016


In the Indian context, marriage is considered as a sacrosanct institution that unites not only two individuals but also two families. In an age of increasing globalization, where a growing number of people have ties to networks of people and places across the globe, people are increasingly marrying across national boundaries. Such kinds of marriages between two people from different countries are known as transnational marriages. Marriages by and/or with Non Resident Indians (NRI marriages) are a class of transnational marriages. “Non-Resident Indian – NRI” means an individual, being a citizen of India or a person of Indian origin who is resident outside India. In ancient times, some marriages were arranged between different tribes and nations because of royalty trying to form alliances with or to influence other kingdoms or to persuade against intruders or slave traders. With the time span, these kinds of marriages resulted on one side, because of the temptation of Indian brides and bridegrooms by the Overseas Indians with the hope of rejuvenating the Indian culture and traditions whereas, on the other side, such alliances with Overseas Indians were seen as promises of better future, not for the bride/bridegroom but for her/his entire family. Now, in the modern time, there again came a shift in the concept of marriage from a sacrament bond to a contractual union. As a result, these marriages mostly turned out to be phony ones, split fast and began to pose serious long-term consequences and drastic issues not only for the wife, husband, children and families but also for the whole of the society and economy as well for which there seems to be no easy remedy either in law or in civil society. Some of the typical instances of the issues which arise in NRI marriages are: abandonment of the wife; domestic violence; non–resident Indian husband already married; continued demand for dowry, pre and post marriage. Moreover, lenient legal system abroad for getting ex-parte divorce; issue of Jurisdiction; validity of foreign court orders; maintenance or custody laws along with property rights and other ancillary legal issues also crop up because of the most important issue of the conflict of laws. The conflict of laws arises because of differences between the law of the country of nationality of a person and that of in which that person may reside or of which nationality may be acquired by him. Apart from it, in India there is absence of unified civil code making the situation more critical. No doubt, at the international level, the Hague Conference on Private International Law’, is affianced in developing polygonal legal mechanisms on the issues related to person, family, or commercial situations, connected with more than one country, particularly where there are divergences in the legal systems with the mission of working for the “Progressive Unification” of these rules thereby involving this conference in finding internationally-agreed approaches to such issues. India is a member of The Hague Conference on Private International law and even though India is still not a signatory of The Hague Convention particularly on Family Law matters so far but it is already a party to some of the conventions which has been signed by it. This initiative on the part of Indian Government has helped a lot in taking judicial action against errant NRI husbands. In India, the victims of fraudulent marriages can also take recourse to legal proceedings against their overseas Indian spouses under the provisions of a number of statutory enactments at the national level and the State level. In addition to all these measures being taken at the international, national as well as State level, the judiciary has also made a lot of contribution through the deliverance of some important Judgements.

However, despite of all initiatives, the phenomenon of wives abandoned by their NRI husbands has been growing invisibly. The objective of this work is to focus upon the plight of the abandoned Indian women due to the creation of various legal as well as psychological, cultural, emotional and economic issues involved because of the dearth of uniform civil law in India in addition to the conflict of laws of different nations across borders in respect of matrimonial issues. In this paper, for achieving the aim of ensuring abandoned women a capability and equity in life, adopting of measures at advocacy at global, national and at State level like: generating and implementing a new set of appropriate Private International laws along with bringing about their ( i.e., of Private International Law rules) unification among all countries of the world in the context of the abandoned brides problem; becoming party to the Hague Conventions relating to Family Law by India; creating a domestic uniform law regarding family matters by enacting a comprehensive new legislation solving family-related legal problems of NRIs together with making corresponding procedural rules providing complete responsive machinery; vesting authority in the competent courts for adjudicating NRI disputes by Indian Government and finally again forging bilateral agreements addressing the various issues of the transnational desertion of Indian women in addition to arranging social awareness campaigns educating the women and their family members about the seriousness of the issue by Government of India are suggested. For the purpose of achieving all these objectives, the present doctrinal study depends profoundly upon various International Conventions covering the domain of Private International Law specifically relating to the Family Law Matters in addition to various relevant national statutory enactments and the works of a number of jurists whose contribution is significant in this respect.

Keywords: Abandoned wives, Hague Conventions, Non-resident Indian Marriages, Overseas Indians, Private International Law.

JEL Classification: K4

Suggested Citation

Chadha, Anuradha, Plight of Abandoned Indian Women in Non Resident Indian Marriages: A Critical Analysis (May 3, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Anuradha Chadha (Contact Author)

Department of Laws, Guru Nanak Dev University Regional Campus ( email )

Ladhewali (Jalandhar)
Jalandhar, Punjab 144007
01812414147 (Phone)
0181-2410050 (Fax)


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