Punjab’s passport office to keep check on ‘holiday marriages’February 7th, 2011 - 11:13 am ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Jalandhar, Feb 7 (IANS) Thousands of women in Punjab have fallen prey to “holiday marriages”, duped into marriage by non-resident Indians visiting India and then dumped. The passport office in Jalandhar has formed a women’s grievance cell to deal with such complaints and take action against the accused husbands.”Around 15,000 girls from Punjab’s Doaba region, consisting of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala districts, were duped by their NRI husbands during the last few years. Jalandhar has maximum number of such cases,” Parneet Singh, passport officer of the Regional Passport Office (RPO), told IANS.
“Therefore, to provide support and justice to these destitute women, we have constituted a ‘women’s grievance cell’. This cell would cater to the complaints from women and depending on the merits of the case, take action under various sections of the Passport Act, 1967,” Singh said.
According to RPO officials, Section 10 (3) of the Passport Act states that the passport issuing authority can impound the passport of such offenders in public interest after issuing them a show-cause notice.
The complainant woman has to produce the marriage certificate, copy of the Fist Information Report (FIR) and documents detailing the husband’s name, date of birth and address.
“We would first issue a show-cause notice to the guilty and then his passport would be confiscated to stop him from going abroad. Then, he cannot leave the country until the matter is resolved, either legally or through mutual consent. However, if he manages to flee, then we would inform the Indian embassy abroad and he would be immediately deported to India,” Singh said.
“We have also asked district marriage officers to furnish us the details of NRI grooms so that we can tell them to add the names of their wives on the passports. It would take only 24 hours time from our side,” he added.
Singh said they will also discuss the matter with the Punjab government.
“This is a very serious matter. We have decided to take up the matter with the Punjab government. We will give them some suggestions that can be followed while registering marriages to avoid such incidents,” he said.
The Jalandhar RPO caters to four districts of Punjab - Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar and Kapurthala.
Local NGOs fighting against ‘holiday marriages’ and working for the rights of women have welcomed the initiative.
“There are countless cases where NRI grooms have deserted their Punjabi wives after taking huge cash and dowry from them. In most of these cases, police are helpless as these errant husbands easily manage to leave the country,” said Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, senior vice-president of Lok Bhalai Party, which is working for the rights of such women for the last many years.
“Now, we are hopeful that this initiative of RPO would act as a deterrent and keep a check on these incidents. We are ready to impart all help to the RPO and give them all details and proof on hundreds of such cases,” said Mullanpuri.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)
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Tags: act states, complainant, destitute women, fir, grievance, grooms, hoshiarpur, indian embassy, information report, issuing authority, kapurthala, marriage certificate, maximum number, mutual consent, passports, public interest, punjab, regional passport office, rpo, visiting india