74th independence day of India


Pravasis are eligible for free legal aid: Kerala High Court

Pravasis are eligible for free legal aid: Kerala High Court

The honorable Kerala High Court has made it clear in a historical judgment that emigrant Indian citizens are eligible for free legal aid. The judgment was issued over a petition filed by Pravasi Legal Cell, seeking directions to establish proper systems to provide free legal aid to Pravasi Indians.

The petition was filed in the light of thousands of Indians returning to the country after losing their jobs and without receiving full wages or other employment benefits in the background of the corona pandemic.

There are sufficient systems in place to ensure free legal aid for the pravasis, citing examples of madad, e-migrate under the Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) available with the Indian Embassies and NORKA of the Government of Kerala, the union and state governments submitted in their respective responses to the Court. The Court had earlier asked both the governments to file responses in the case. The Court expressed its satisfaction over the existing systems as presented by the governments and expressed its hope that no Indians are left in peril without receiving proper legal aid.

The central government also submitted in its affidavit that the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Embassies in various countries and the Indian missions will ensure that necessary legal aid is provided to Indian citizens in filing for their rightful wages and other provisions. Indian citizens in need of free legal aid abroad can request for help through the community welfare wings of the Indian embassies, madad or e-migrate portals of the ministry of external affairs.

The union government also made it clear in the affidavit that the embassies have ensured the service of lawyers and those citizens who had to return to the country without being able to file labor complaints etc. could do the same to claim their rightful wages and compensations through the Indian Embassies by issuing power of attorney.

Relatives of Indians who died abroad during the lock down period can also apply for insurance and end of service benefits using these provisions, the affidavit stated.

The High Court’s historic observation that the Indian emigrants have every right to receive free legal aid will empower pravasis and it would provide a basis for anyone to initiate necessary legal proceedings, if this right is denied, said Adv. Jose Abraham, Global President of Pravasi Legal Cell and Mr.Babu Francis, Pravasi Legal Cell Kuwait Country head  welcoming  the judgement. LINK