NRI MARRIAGES IN INDIA – ISSUES AND CHALLENGES – PART 1

INTRODUCTION & DEFINITIONS:

The abbreviation NRI stands for Non-Resident Indian. Legally, it has not been given an express definition under any statute, but the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) of 1999 (Act 42 of 1999) defines only a person resident in India, as follows:

A person who has lived in India for a minimum of 182 (one-hundred and eight-two days) in the last financial year and who comes or resides in India for any reason/purpose [is a person resident in India].[1]

The FEM Act, 1999 silently defines an NRI as a person who is not resident in India. He or she is an Indian citizen and holds the Indian passport, but usually lives in a foreign country.

Other similar abbreviations are PIO or Person of Indian Origin which means a foreign citizen who also bears the Indian passport, or has or had grandparents who live or lived in India, or has a spouse who is an Indian.

Another such abbreviation is OCI which expands to Overseas Citizen of India. This replaced the term PIO, and has been mentioned in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2005.[2]

An NRI marriage is essentially a marriage in which one or both of the parties are of Indian origin, but later on migrate to a foreign country, or one in which both live in a foreign country and want to marry under Indian laws.[3]

For the sake of clarity, only the following pairs of individuals can participate in an NRI marriage:

1. NRI male and an Indian female, or

2. NRI female and an Indian male (occasionally), or

3. Indian husband and wife who later migrate to a foreign nation either together or separately, or

4. NRI spouses marrying under Indian laws within India or a foreign country, or

5. An Indian male or female marrying a foreigner under Indian laws within India or another country.[4]

There are certain reasons why people find the prospect of participating in an NRI marriage so alluring. These are:

1. To live in a foreign country, and lead a luxurious lifestyle,

2. Pursuing personal aspirations (applies only to some people),

3. Going to a foreign country to get better work and wages, 4. Dishonest motives of the NRI spouse who seeks to cheat and defraud his or her Indian counterpart.[5]

(To be continued in Part 2.)


*Graduate, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune.

[1] Concept of Non-Resident Indian Marriages & Legal Issues – A Detailed Study: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/26528/10/10_chapter%203.pdf (Visited on 27 August, 2017).

[2] Y. Srinivas Rao, J, NRI Marriages – Issues and Challenges with Special Reference to Custody of Children, (Aug. 06, 2017), https://articlesonlaw.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/nri-marriages-issues-and-challenges-with-special-reference-to-custody-of-children/.

[3] Concept of Non-Resident Indian Marriages & Legal Issues – A Detailed Study: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/26528/10/10_chapter%203.pdf (Visited on 27 August, 2017).

[4] Supra n. 2 at p. 2.

[5] Supra n. 3 at pp. 130-133.

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