Highest priority to provide help to distressed Indians: Sushma

, 6:47 AM IST

New Delhi: The NDA government has given highest priority to provide help and assistance to distressed Indians abroad, including those who are defrauded in marriage, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha today.

Swaraj said her Ministry has been receiving petitions from Indian women stating that their non-resident Indian spouse has hidden the fact that he is already married or has a partner.

She said such complaints pertain to abandonment of the Indian women either in India or in the foreign country by the NRI spouse after the marriage.

Since the NRI spouse resides outside India, following legal and other constraints are faced while addressing this complex issue, she said.

Swaraj said inspite of all these constrains, the External Affairs Ministry is taking various steps to provide assistance to the aggrieved women.

“Our government has given highest priority to provide help and assistance to distressed Indians abroad, irrespective of their castes, creed and religion,” she said in reply to a supplementary related to community-wise break-up of distressed Indians.

The Minister said since the launch of her Ministry’s grievance redressal portal ‘MADAD’ on February 2015, as many as 246 grievances under “marital dispute” category have been received of which 172 have been addressed.

Since January 2016, the External Affairs Ministry has received another 362 petitions by post and email related to NRI marriages of which 344 have been addressed, she said.
Swaraj said under a special scheme launched by the

External Affairs Ministry, legal and financial assistance has been provided to nearly 85 Indian women whose husbands reside in 13 countries — the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The amount provided enables them to initiate legal proceedings against the spouse, avail counselling and for sustenance, she said.

The External Affairs Ministry is providing information about legal options available to the Indian women; procedures to be followed for serving of judicial summons on the NRI husband; and lawyers and NGOs in foreign countries who can assist the petitioners. This information has been posted on the Ministry’s website.

Many Indian Missions have designated ‘Open House’ meetings during which any distressed Indian national can approach the Mission for assistance and guidance, she said.

Swaraj said Ministry of Women and Child Development has recently set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee which will submit recommendations about the legal and procedural hurdles faced by Indian women married to NRIs.