Dubai driver takes Indian Government to court


Taking up the cudgels on behalf of millions of fellow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), living across the world, an Indian driver working in Dubai has taken the Government of India to the court.

Seeking information from the government under the Right to Information (RTI) act, about the number of overseas Indians and the state of their welfare, Kamaruddin Valiyavalappil knocked on the court doors when he was denied information.

The court then ordered the concerned authorities to furnish the information within six months, which Kamaruddin alleges was never acted upon by the authorities, forcing him to sue them in the Kerala High Court.

Using the platform of the Federation of NRIs, Kamaruddin has now designed detailed welfare charter for overseas Indians demanding more rights and respect for those who contribute to the economy through their remittances which run into billions every month.

It’s not that Kamaruddin dragged the government to the court of choice, the court’s door was knocked only after exhausting all other options of getting the information and government’s attention towards expats’ plight.

Before approaching the Kerala High Court, Kamaruddin wrote to the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, including his long charter of demands for expatriate welfare, but found no response.

His law suit calls for action against the Indian Government, represented by the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Kerala State Government represented by Chief Secretary, Indian Minister of Overseas Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, and other concerned officials, who according to him, have not responded to the Kerala High Court’s directive to provide him vital information that he requested as per the Right to Information Act.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7 on the sidelines of a press meet he called to announce the High Court’s decision to move a contempt of court trial against the government officials he said: “Since they are supposed to give details to an Indian citizen, I approached the Kerala High Court with the help of a leading advocate, Ram Kumar, seeking justice. I have been spending part of my regular salary to fight this legal battle, which is for the welfare of my fellow overseas Indians.”

The driver who works for a company based in Jebel Ali and is in the Gulf for over two decades is ready with a charter of rights.

The annual remittances by Indian expatriates is several times the total defence budget or education budget and remittances by overseas Keralites exceed the total Central Assistance to the State, he stated in a memorandum submitted to Dr Manmohan Singh in January 2009.

Few resources are allocated for overseas Indian welfare in successive Central Government budgets, he argues, criticising the political parties and religious groups that neglect  NRI issues.

His charter of demands includes, among others:

- Rehabilitation and implementation of welfare measures for expatriates returning home due to job loss

- Declaring an expatriate policy in tune with the Indian Constitution, ensure voting right for all NRIs, reserve seats in the Indian Parliament and Assemblies for  NRIs

- Protection for the families and assets of NRIs, using part of the fund collected from the Customs and Immigration Departments

- Pensions for retired NRIs the same way ex-servicemen are given

- Interest free loan to applicants seeking job abroad

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