April 10, 2016 06:56 PM

Chandigarh (kulbir singh kalsi)

Also wants powers of court for NRI commission and review of all cases of NRIs wrongly declared POs

The Australian Foundation for NRIs (AFNRI), a non-political organisation of Non-resident Indians settled in Australia, has demanded constitution of special courts for NRIs to handle cases, including those under the Rent Act, review of all cases of NRIs being declared proclaimed offenders (POs) through the process of sending summons at local addresses where they have not been residing for years, an early notification of the definition as to who constitutes an NRI and making the Punjab State Commission of NRIs more effective by giving it powers of revision of civil and criminal court. Addressing a press conference here today, the founder member of AFNRI, Mr Gurpal Singh, a Australia based barrister and solicitor, said despite best intentions of the Punjab government  in creating special mechanisms for redress of grievances of NRIs, the expatriates continue to face serious problems in finding resolution of issues related to property and other disputes back home in a time bound manner.Research undertaken by AFNRI into the concerns of the NRIs from Punjab has revealed that it still takes between one year to five-plus years for a NRI to get his property vacated through court intervention despite the fact that Section 13 B of the Rent Act was incorporated for the specific objective of providing immediate vacation of properties owned by the NRIs. Declaring NRI suspects in cases as proclaimed offenders, without first confirming whether they have been residing at the place in Punjab where summons were issued, is another major irritant for them.Mr Gurpal Singh said another issue troubling the NRIs is the continuing confusion over the definition of NRIs. The issue pending in the Honourable Supreme court in the matter of 2011 revolves around the question as to whether a person holding passport of other country, rather than India, would be covered in the scope of NRI as defined in Rent Act?. The government should notify an explanation to the definition of NRI, rather than waiting for the SC decision.   He said the creation of the Punjab State Commission of NRIs was a well-intended move by the state government, but the commission has no power except to initiate an enquiry into a particular matter. As a consequence the commission has been reduced to a toothless body at a very high expense to the government. Noting that Punjabis settled in Australia in particular, and other countries including Canada, USA, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., find the assistance provided by the Indian consulates and embassies not fully effective in the light of some important matters falling in domain of state government and state laws, the foundation said it added to the agony and delay in the matters of concern and repeated visits to the consulates. It demanded the Punjab government appoint a nodal office in all these countries to effectively address the issues of NRIs settled in these countries. The foundation appealed to the chief minister and deputy chief minister to visit Australia for better and open engagement with the NRIs and explore the effective collaboration between Australian states and Punjab. 

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