In a 62 page historical judgement, the Kerala High court has ruled that Indian expats will receive free legal aid. The judgment follows a petition filed by Pravasi Legal Cell, seeking directions to establish proper systems to provide free legal aid to expatriates.
The petition was filed in light of thousands of Indian nationals returning to the country after losing their jobs, without receiving full wages or other employment benefits due to the prevailing situation.
“The High Court’s historic observation that Indian emigrants have every right to receive free legal aid will empower Pravasi’s (expatriates) and it would provide a basis for anyone to initiate necessary legal proceedings if this right is denied” Pravasi Legal Cell Global President Jose Abraham welcoming the judgement.
There are sufficient systems in place to ensure free legal aid for expatriates, MADAD portal, 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 Court had earlier requested 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 be left in distress without receiving proper legal aid.
The central government affidavit stated that the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Embassies in various countries and the Indian missions must 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.
Embassies have ensured the service of lawyers. Expats who had to return to the country without being able to file labour complaints 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 lockdown period can also apply for insurance and end of service benefits using these provisions, the affidavit stated.