The Delhi High Court Monday said the issue relating to desertion of wives by their NRI husbands is of "great concern" and sought the response of various ministries on it.
The court said it would examine a plea seeking framing of guidelines concerning protection of rights and safeguarding of interest of women deserted by Non-Resident Indian (NRI) husbands.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao sought response of ministries of Law and Justice, External Affairs, Home Affairs and Child and Women Development as also the National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women on the petition filed by Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC).
"It requires examination. It is an issue of great concern," the bench said and listed the matter for January 9 for further hearing.
DSGMC, represented by advocate Rajat Taneja, raised the issue of wives being deserted and abandoned by their NRI husbands on various grounds, including dowry. This was shattering their dreams and reducing them to hapless individuals without any fault of theirs, it maintained.
The petition, filed through advocates Jasleen Chahal and Manpreet Kaur, said a woman is entitled to equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and there is an urgent need to focus on the ever growing complaints where a wife is deserted by her NRI husband.
The plea mentioned the pattern of exploitation which include that the woman learns on reaching the residence of her husband in the other country that he is already married to someone else and continues to live with her.
"Usually they marry Indian women due to pressure from his parents in order to please them or sometimes to use her like a domestic help," it said.
It added that the woman is sent back to India by her husband with a promise of being called her back, but she is left behind without passport, visa and money, thus leaving her without any way to rejoin her spouse.
"In many such instances, the woman would be pregnant when he left and both, she and the child are abandoned. The husband never calls or write and never comes back again. The in-laws who could still be in India would either plead helplessness or flatly refuse to help," the plea said.
It said women who seek the aid of criminal justice system to prosecute her husband and in-laws for dowry demands and cruelty are left handicapped as trial fails to proceed because the offender spouse would not come to India to face the proceedings.
The plea said there is no comprehensive or special law to govern such aspects.
"The Supreme Court has dealt with similar issues on various occasions and has already expressed its distress upon lack of legislative measures in India with respect to exploitation of women by their NRI husbands," it claimed.
The plea sought direction to the authorities to constitute high level committee to frame guidelines concerning protection of rights and safeguarding of interest of women who are deserted by NRI husbands and to strengthen the enforcement of such guidelines by streamlining the law.
It sought direction to make arrangement for deportation of such offenders to India.
It said services of an independent investigating agency be taken to deal with the matters where wives are deserted and constitute a monitoring panel to look into the status of such pending complaints.