What to do if you are being harassed by an NRI spouse or in-laws?

In such NRI marriages, the exacerbated danger is that the woman is frequently 'isolated' away from home in an alien country, facing language restrictions, communication issues, lack of sufficient local criminal justice information, police and legal system information. This article looks at the remedies available to such people, especially women who, after moving to a foreign jurisdiction, are victims of violence.

Wed Mar 03 2021 | Family Law | Comments (0)


NRI marriages are either as an Indian citizen (when they were legally a 'NRI') or as a citizen of that other country (when they were legally a PIO-a person of Indian origin) between an Indian from India and an Indian residing in another country, as is widely known (thus NRI-a non-resident Indian). Even the usual cautions observed in traditional matchmaking are totally overlooked by families in their eagerness not to let go of such a lucrative marriage offer (usually for the women). They also forget that in the event of things going wrong in an NRI marriage, the woman's recourse to justice is greatly reduced and complicated. The aggravated danger in such a marriage is that the woman alone is far from home in an unfamiliar country, facing language limitations, communication difficulties, lack of adequate knowledge on local criminal justice, information on the police and legal system. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of support networks for friends and family and monetary restrictions that leave the abandoned wife utterly helpless and stranded.

Forms of disputes relating to an NRI marriage which typically occur.

  • First, when an Indian girl is married by the NRI bridegroom, he takes a certain sum of money as a dowry and finally flies away abroad, leaving behind his wife in India.
  • Second, cases in which both the husband and the wife are married abroad by Indians. They develop problems after their marriage, such as the extra-marital love affair of either of the partners in the marriage, ill-treatment, violence inside the marriage. Therefore, either the husband or the wife goes back to India and in an Indian court files a suit.

There are very common parallel marriage petitions, one in the foreign country in which the couple resides, and another by the parties in India.

Who are NRIs and what is an NRI marriage?

An NRI is a person who holds an Indian passport and has temporarily immigrated to another nation for a certain period of time. 'NRI marriages' typically means a marriage between an Indian woman and an Indian man living in another country, as an Indian citizen (when he will legally be a 'NRI') or as a citizen of that country (NRI-non-resident Indian) (when he would legally be a PIO- person of Indian origin).

What law applies to Non-resident Indian marriage?

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the International Marriage Act, 1969 and other personal laws regulating both partners are various laws governing NRI marriages. The rule according to which the parties have married is the law regulating marriage disputes. The same family of law also regulates other privileges linked to matrimonial alliances, such as inheritance and succession, adoption.Interestingly, even the laws of that country which extend to marriage, divorce and all other sorts of disputes, depending on the laws of the country where the couple resides.

What to do if the spouse or in-laws harass the NRI husband or wife?

In cases where an NRI husband or wife is abused by in-laws or spouse in a foreign country, Sections 3 and 4 of the Indian Penal Code are eligible for rescue. Section 3 allows the courts with criminal jurisdiction to prosecute a crime committed by a person outside the territory of India if that person is subject to Indian law. This section also refers to those who are protected by some specific legislation, such as the Hindu Marriage Act 1954 or the Special Marriage Act, taking them under Indian jurisdiction.

Section 3 of the Indian Penal Code states, “Any person liable, by any law of India, to be tried for an offence committed beyond India is to be dealt with according to the provisions of this Code for any act committed beyond India in the same manner as if such act had been committed within the territory of India.”


There are cases in which in-laws exert pressure on their daughter-in-law living abroad for dowry while sitting in India. In most cases, Section 108 of the Indian Penal code states, “A person abetting an offence who, in India, abets the commission of any act within and beyond India which would constitute an offence as if committed in India.”

Here is a stepwise approach to what to do if the spouse or in-laws harass the NRI husband or wife.

  • First and foremost, you must not be under pressure to endorse the demand for dowry or any other unfair demand made to end your ill-treatment, violence or desertion by or on behalf of your NRI/PIO husband.
  • You may contact the nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate for assistance/advice, to file harassment, abandonment, ill-treatment, etc. complaint with the local police.
  • The Indian Embassy/Consulate can assist in providing contact details of local NGOs, approach the local police, contact your family/friends, etc. who could help you.
  • The Indian Mission can be contacted for initial legal/financial assistance to file a case against your husband in the foreign country.
  • File the police complaint locally and try to solve the problem with the help of local authority first.
  • As the NRI holds the Indian citizenship they can file for cases under the Indian Penal Code for 498A, or other such penal provisions in the Indian Court.
  • Indian courts are competent to entertain such pleas. Hence, do not be scared of possible legal issues while filing the case.

Do’s and don’ts: NRI marriages

Do’s Check the personal details of the NRI groom, such as:

  1. Marital status: if he is single, separated, separated, divorced, Details of employment: qualification and post, wage, office address, employer and qualifications, immigration status, visa form, eligibility to take the spouse to the other country
  2. Financial status, property that he is said to own in India, address of residence, family history, visa, passport. Registration card for voters or aliens, Social Security number.
  3. Insist that a registered marriage be solemnised in India along with religious marriage with sufficient evidence such as photos, etc.


  • Do not make any decision in hurry and, for whatever reason, do not get forced to do so.
  • Do not make marriage a transition to greener pastures abroad by falling victim to lucrative schemes or promises to get a green card via marriage to move to another world.
  • Do not finalise marriage matters on the phone or via e-mails, without meeting the family or over a long distance.
  • Do not get forced to make impulsive marriage proposal decisions with an NRI only because it seems too perfect to be true.
  • Do not discuss or blindly trust your daughter's marriage through an office, agent or middleman.
  • If marriage negotiations take place through marriage sites, check the specifics and validity of the information submitted about the groom.
  • Do not finalise confidentiality issues-publishing the proposal among close and dear ones, friends and close relatives might help you get vital details that you would not otherwise be able to obtain.
  • Get your wedding registered in India
  • It is advisable to get your marriage registered with an Indian Court Registrar. The marriage certificate helps in many ways to settle disputes. Have the marriage registered in the Registrar's office before leaving the country with your NRI/PIO husband or wife.

Is there a government scheme to support women deserted by their husbands?

Yes. The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has come up with a plausible solution to this problem. A "Judicial and Financial Assistance to Indian Women Abandoned by their Overseas Indian Husbands" scheme is in effect. The scheme is a welfare measure to help women of Indian descent who have been fraudulently abandoned by their Indian husbands abroad through the Indian Mission abroad with their NGOs, lawyers, etc.

When can a passport be cancelled in such cases?

Rajiv Dayal v. Union of India & Ors. is a judgement that shows that if the Indian courts have not responded to the summons, the wife still has an available remedy under Section 10 of the Passport Act to revoke or impound the passport of the NRI husband.

NRI appearance before an Indian Court of Law

Section 105 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) allows for mutual armaments to be rendered for the service of summons/warrants/judicial procedures by the central government with foreign governments.

Tags: Domestic Violence, NRIs, Immigration, PIOs, Dowry, Divorce

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