Ker­ala ex­pa­tri­ates to get free le­gal aid soon


Gulf News - - Nation - BY SAJILA SASEENDRAN Se­nior Re­porter

Ex­pats from the South In­dian state of Ker­ala will soon re­ceive free le­gal aid through Malay­ali lawyers in the UAE em­pan­elled by their gov­ern­ment.

Norka-Roots, a pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ing un­der Non­Res­i­dent Ker­alites’ Af­fairs Depart­ment (Norka) of the Ker­ala gov­ern­ment, will ap­point these lawyers un­der the “Pravasi [Ex­pat] Le­gal Aid Cell (PLAC),” a top of­fi­cial said.

The ser­vices of the PLAC will be ini­tially offered to Malay­ali ex­pats in the GCC and some other Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries, said Harikr­ish­nan Nam­boothiri, CEO of Norka Roots.

Speak­ing to Gulf News by phone from Ker­ala, Nam­boothiri said: “We are go­ing to em­panel le­gal li­ai­son of­fi­cers to pro­vide le­gal as­sis­tance, le­gal coun­selling and also help them [NRKs] get le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the courts.”

Spe­cial com­mit­tee

De­pend­ing on the size of the Malay­ali pop­u­la­tion, the num­ber of li­ai­son of­fi­cers will be dif­fer­ent. “For the UAE and Saudi we will have five or more,” said Nam­boothiri.

The depart­ment, through a spe­cial com­mit­tee, has invited ap­pli­ca­tions from Malay­ali lawyers with ex­pe­ri­ence of prac­tis­ing law both in Ker­ala and their coun­try of res­i­dence.

They should also know both Malay­alam and the lo­cal lan­guage in their place of res­i­dence.

“Lan­guage is a big bar­rier [in re­ceiv­ing proper le­gal aid]. We are ac­tu­ally break­ing that [with this ser­vice].”

In the ab­sence of proper and timely as­sis­tance from le­gal con­sul­tants, he said, many Ker­alite ex­pats con­tinue to face prob­lems abroad, even though they may have petty cases.

Once Norka re­ceives a re­quest for le­gal aid, it will take the view of re­puted as­so­ci­a­tions to check the au­then­tic­ity and cred­i­bil­ity of the ap­pli­cant.

“De­pend­ing on the merit of the is­sue and the grav­ity of the mat­ter, we will for­ward the cases to the le­gal li­ai­son of­fi­cers.”

Norka will en­sure con­sular as­sis­tance to those fac­ing is­sues re­lated to pass­port, visa and em­ploy­ment which will be taken up by the li­ai­son of­fi­cers, who will be given hon­o­rar­ium by Norka.

The li­ai­son of­fi­cers will not ac­cept re­quests for le­gal aid in crim­i­nal of­fences, he said.

The PLAC will, how­ever, han­dle is­sues re­lated to con­vic­tions, im­pris­on­ment and med­i­cal treat­ment of pris­on­ers.

The last day to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions by le­gal li­ai­son of­fi­cers is De­cem­ber 17.

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