Kerala sets up commission to address NRI issues

This post was originally published on 5 March 2016 and the content may be outdated.

Indian expats from Kerala now have a new body to address their grievances and fight for justice, back home without being physically present over there all the time.

The commission with semi-judicial powers was constituted by the Cabinet as per the NRI (Keralites) Commission Act, 2015 passed by the state assembly during its winter session.
According to the Act, the commission will consist of a retired high court judge as its chairman, a retired Indian Administrative Service officer, two representatives of the Kerala diaspora and a state government official of the rank of a joint secretary.

Members of the commission

Under the plan, a team of four members directed by a former judge of Indian High Court Justice P Bhavadas was declared as the Commission.

Justice Bhavadasan will take charge after his retirement from the judicial service on March 31.

The two members of the current team are active NRI’s living abroad and other two are former NRIs in which two are either presently living in the UAE or have been living in the UAE in past.

UAE-based Dr Shamseer Valayil Parampath, who fought a legal battle for the voting rights of NRIs, Bhagath Singh, a Gulf-returnee and former president of the Indian Association Sharjah, Bahrain-based journalist Soman Baby, former MLA PMA Salam and are the members of the five-member commission.

Role of the commission

“The purpose of this commission will be to safeguard the interests of the NRIs and provide justice to their grievances. As the Director of this commission, I hope we will be able to do justice to all the NRIs and will strive hard in making this commission a way for them to reach out to various State and Central Government departments without any hassles,” says Vayalil.

The quasi-judicial body will report all concerns of the diaspora including clashes over properties and investments as well as fake recruitments.

The commission will allow to involve a lawyer for the diaspora complainants to appear before the panel and the complainant need not waste his/her time for resolving issues.

The commission will organize the meetings in every three month to estimate its activities.
Even though there is a special NRI Police Cell, there are limitations in its functioning but with the commission being a quasi-judicial body, complainants can engage a lawyer who will be appearing before the panel and the complainant need not waste his/her time, unlike when police handles such cases.

The Act also has provision to ensure the safety and welfare of the families of the NRIs, including elders. The commission will have the same authority of the State Human Rights Commission. Its orders would be binding.

Second state after Punjab to set up NRI commission

Kerala is the second state in the country to set up such a commission after Punjab, which had established the commission way back in 2011. Kerala was the first state to set up a separate department for the diaspora.

The total number of Kerala emigrants as on 2014 is 2.4 million, according to the recent study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.

Almost 90 per cent of the Kerala diaspora is in the various Middle-East countries and almost one million Keralites reportedly live in the UAE.

The remittances they send are the backbone of the state economy. The remittances were 1.2 times the revenue receipt of the state in 2014, 4.9 times the money that the state got from the federal government as revenue transfer and 1.5 times the entire government expenditure.

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