Of late, love has become dispensable instead of being a passionate elixir of life. Marriages are fast turning into marriages of convenience with the people, especially women, craving for marriages with non-resident Indians (NRI), a study conducted by Hemant Gopal of Barnala has revealed.
In NRI marriages, spouse selection is based upon considerations of immigration status of the NRI spouse and barter marriages, through family sources, are quite common in Punjab.
To send their daughter or son abroad, parents even shell out money to enter into contracts of a dummy marriage. Such marriages have been described variously as passport marriage, paper marriage, barter marriage, holiday marriage or sham marriage.
Immigration to foreign land for economic prosperity and healthy lifestyle has a great temptation for many educated youngsters and marriage with an NRI spouse seems to be the easiest method to achieve this aim. The study, entitled ‘Changing concept of Hindu marriage in modern India with special reference to NRI marriages’, has been conducted by Hemant Gopal for doctorate of philosophy in Laws at Punjabi University, Patiala.
Gopal conducted this study to critically examine various aspects of marriage from the judicial point of view to enunciate and scrutinise the weaknesses, adequacy or lacunas in the present legislative provisions and judicial adjudicative court level responses to the changing concept of marriage in the society. NRI marriages are ‘limping’, ie marriages held in India but separated or divorced on foreign land. The phenomenon of ‘run-away husbands’ and ‘limping marriages’ of NRI spouses has become a serious social-legal malady.
Hindu marriage is viewed as sacramental, which is a lifelong commitment to one woman and one man. It is the strongest bond between a man and a woman, which takes place in the presence of their parents, relatives, and friends.
There is no perfect way one can check or verify the antecedents of prospective NRI spouse. Often the time of their stay in India is short and travel documents are too technical to be easily understood by the common people. Some people are so desperate to get their girls settled abroad that they do not consult others or keep the whole thing secret.
Though women are usually the ultimate victims of marital discord or domestic violence, the adversarial method of litigation seems to have provided a ready tool to the women to involve all and sundry in court cases against their NRI husbands.
The study suggested that matrimonial alliance or betrothal should be treated as a part of marriage contract and legally tenable. This will scare many fraudulent marriage deals.
The study also suggested that India should become member of Hague Conference on Private International Law. Hague Marriage and Divorce Conventions entitle spouses in signatory countries to legal help in case of being cheated by the partner. This convention enables member nations to recognize marriages held in another country and facilitates reciprocal recognition of orders of Courts of signatory countries by harmonizing different legal systems.
India should also change its Extradition Treaty Act to include fraud, matrimonial cruelty as well as dowry in its ambit.
There should be compulsory registration of marriages and marriage certificates for NRI marriages must be enrolled in the High Commissioner / Embassy of India where the NRI spouse resides.