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Absconding NRI husbands may face severe travel restrictions

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The circulars will be valid around the world, and will ensure that the moment these men go to any airport, they can be brought back to India.

New Delhi: The Centre proposes to issue ‘look out’ circulars (LOCs) against absconding NRI husbands who desert their wives.

The government, in its bid to crack down on such individuals, is months away from developing a system where circulars valid around the world will be issued against them.

The circulars will ensure that the moment these men go to any airport, they can be brought back to India.

“The basic idea is to restrict the mobility of the person in question,” a government official told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.

“For NRIs, it is extremely important that they are able to travel easily… By taking this step, we will ensure that the moment he goes to any airport, India’s LOC for him is produced.

As soon as the women and child development ministry receives a complaint, it will be sent to the National Commission for Women to be examined. Then, the home ministry, which looks after immigration, will issue the LoC, the official explained.

A growing problem

Last year, the minister of state for external affairs, Gen. (Retd) V.K. Singh, said the government had received 3,328 complaints from distressed Indian women deserted by their NRI spouses in the last three years.

In the past, both WCD minister Maneka Gandhi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj have thrown their weight behind the issue of deserted wives.

A number of proposals have been floated to address the growing issue, including crucial changes in criminal law — such as a proposal to allow authorities to attach the properties of these men and cancel their passports. The proposal was left for examination by the law ministry.

However, last week Hindustan Times reported that the proposal had hit a roadblock in the form of Supreme Court guidelines issued in WCD minister Maneka Gandhi’s own case in 1978, which made it difficult for the state to confiscate or cancel passports.

Other measures may not be needed

While the law ministry will continue examining those proposals, the official quoted above said if LOCs can be issued, no other measure may be needed to ensure that the absconding husband is brought back to India.

Since those proposals were made at a ministerial level, they will have to be reviewed; however, in a period of two months, a well-oiled system to issue LOCs will be in place, and that should be adequate to address the issue, the official said.

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