What Are the Laws Governing NRI Marriages in India?

The laws governing NRI (Non-Resident Indian) marriages in India primarily revolve around the legal requirements for marriage registration, divorce, and issues related to marriage disputes. Though the central government introduced the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Bill in 2019, it is yet to become an Act. 

Let us look into the details of the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019. 

The Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019, stipulates that every NRI who marries an Indian citizen or another NRI should register his/her marriage within 30 days. If the NRI fails to register the marriage within 30 days, the passport authority may impound his/her passport. 

The Bill also adds a provision to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. “If a summons could not be served to a person, it shall be served by uploading it on a designated website.  If the person summoned does not appear before the court, it may upload a warrant for arrest on the website.”

Here’s a general overview of the key laws related to NRI marriages in India:

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: This act governs Hindu marriages in India, including those involving NRIs who are of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, or Buddhist faiths. It provides guidelines for the registration of marriages, conditions for a valid marriage, rights and obligations of spouses, and grounds for divorce.

Special Marriage Act, 1954: Special Marriage Act applies to marriages between individuals of different religions or those who do not wish to follow the customs and rituals of their respective religions. NRIs can choose to marry under this act, and it provides a procedure for the registration of such marriages.

Foreign Marriage Act, 1969: This act applies to Indian nationals marrying abroad. If an NRI marries a foreign national outside India, they can register their marriage under this act at the Indian consulate in that country. This registration helps in proving the validity of the marriage in India.

Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939: This act provides grounds for Muslim women to seek divorce in certain cases. It may apply to NRI marriages involving Muslim individuals, although divorce-related matters in Muslim marriages are often governed by personal laws.

Indian Divorce Act, 1869: Indian Divorce Act applies to marriages among Christians in India. NRIs belonging to Christian denominations can seek divorce under this act, which provides provisions for divorce, judicial separation, and annulment.

Family Courts Act, 1984: This act established family courts to deal with matters related to marriage, divorce, maintenance, and custody of children. NRI couples facing disputes related to marriage can approach family courts.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act aims to protect women from domestic violence and abuse, including within NRI marriages. It provides for protection orders, residence orders, and monetary relief for victims.

Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010: While this bill hasn’t been passed into law, it aimed to make marriages involving NRIs more transparent and accountable. It proposed measures to address issues of abandonment, dowry demands, and property disputes.

Given the complexity of NRI marriages and the potential for cross-border legal issues, it’s advisable for NRI couples to seek legal advice when dealing with matters related to marriage, divorce, and family disputes. It’s also crucial to ensure that any marriage-related documentation, such as marriage certificates and divorce decrees, are properly registered and recognized in both the country of marriage and the home country of the NRI.

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