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SC To Hear Tomorrow The Plea For Constituting "Special Purpose Fund" To Financially Assist NRIs Under Severe Distress Due To COVID-19 Outbreak.

Radhika Roy
7 May 2020 3:31 PM GMT
SC To Hear Tomorrow The Plea For Constituting Special Purpose Fund To Financially Assist NRIs Under Severe Distress Due To COVID-19 Outbreak.
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A PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking for the constitution of a "Special Purpose Fund" to financially assist emigrant workers and NRIs who have no means of healthcare and welfare amenities, and are under severe distress due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Filed by Advocate-on-Record Deepak Prakash and drafted by Advocates Nachiketa Vajpayee and Divyangana Malik, the...

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A PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking for the constitution of a "Special Purpose Fund" to financially assist emigrant workers and NRIs who have no means of healthcare and welfare amenities, and are under severe distress due to the COVID-19 outbreak.


Filed by Advocate-on-Record Deepak Prakash and drafted by Advocates Nachiketa Vajpayee and Divyangana Malik, the petition states that a "Special Purpose Fund" should be constituted, wherein 15% of the amount received as "foreign remittance" from NRI's and emigrants should be utilized specifically for providing better healthcare and sustenance facilities to all citizens either residing in India or abroad.

Filed on behalf of Kerala Pravasi Sangham, through its General Secretary Mr. KV Abdul Kadar, also an MLA in the State of Kerala, the PIL provides the following reasons for directions to institute the Fund:

1. Numerous NRIs and emigrant workers all over the world, particularly in the Gulf region, are in an extremely distressed and panic situation due to COVID-19 outbreak, and that they are being deprived of basic healthcare and welfare amenities.

2. They contribute substantially to the GDP of the nation through "foreign remittance". Additionally, out of the total amount of Rs. 4,47,586 crores which is pumped by way of this remittance, 19% is contributed solely by people of the State of Kerala who have settled down in different parts of the world.

3. Despite these NRI's and emigrant works substantially and relentlessly contributing to the economic growth of the country, they are being deprived of adequate financial aid for survival and sustenance from their respective Indian Missions/Consulates.

4. Due to lack of funds and social cover, foreign countries are unable to provide quarantine centres for Indian citizens. There are reports regarding spread of COVID-19 in purported labour camps and private apartments.

5. As the crisis is akin to a "state of emergency", "it is imperative to provide proper financial assistance/aid and 'rehabilitation packages' to all the Indians across the globe who are in a distressed situation and in dire need of proper survival kits and amenities", failure of which could amount to a violation of their right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Accordingly, the plea seeks for an allocation of 15% of the foreign remittance towards providing the NRIs and emigrant workers proper healthcare, accommodation and facilities.

"This is not only the duty of the State, but will also act as an incentive for emigrants who would ultimately play an important role in increasing the foreign income in our Country".

On the basis of the same, the Petitioner has approached the Court to ensure formulation of certain guidelines, as well as to the respect the sentiments of the citizens of the country who are diligently working outside the country in order to bring in money for its betterment and upliftment.

"The State is duty bound to uphold the principles of Human Rights and protect the same in the interest of their citizens. Human Rights are at par with the fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution and thus, the "right to life and provide adequate livelihood" needs to be promoted and protected with utmost sincerity".

The plea additionally refers to the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) which has been set up to meet contingency expenditure incurred by Indian Missions/Consulates for carrying out various welfare activities. However, it has come to the notice of the Petitioner that despite representations and requests from the aggrieved, no financial aid or security has been provided to them.

The petition goes on to suggest various guidelines and measures that can be implemented to mitigate the grievance of the NRIs and emigrant workers, such as established of a specialized team at the Embassies of each nation in order to redress concerns, formulation of rehabilitation packages, prioritizing urgent cases of people who require immediate repatriation, and others.

The matter is listed tomorrow before a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and BR Gavai.

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