The Kochi High Court has recently overruled the state’s Election Commission objection to the NRI panel appointment and has allowed the state government to go ahead with the notification and appointment of a 5-member commission being constituted to study problems faced by NR Keralites (NRKs).
The decision by a division bench comprising Justice P N Ravindran and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar came while considering a petition by K S Hameed of Kalamassery, who was seeking a directive to speed up the appointment process of the commission that is to be headed by former high court judge Justice P Bhavadasan.
While overruling the Election Commission (EC) objection the high court said the appointment is based on legislation, the NRI Keralites Commission Act of 2016, and it won't come within the purview of the code of conduct. Importantly, the petitioner's counsel had argued that the decision to set up the five-member commission headed by the former judge was taken by the government in January, 2016. The decision was approved by the cabinet and was also published in the gazette, and the code came into being only on March 4, therefore the model code of conduct cannot be made applicable to the appointment of the commission. In 2014, Kerala government has set up an NRI commission to help resolve problems faced by the state Diaspora. This was created following the numerous complaints from the Kerala Diaspora, regarded as the backbone of the state economy on account of their remittances
The five-member commission, commonly known as NRI Commission, is aimed at addressing the grievances of NRKs without requiring their physical presence in Kerala. The Kerala Government had declared Justice Bhavadasan as the head of the commission. The other members of the commission include the chief editor of Bahrain based Newspaper DT News Soman Baby; VPS Healthcare head Shamsheer Vayalil; Sharjah Indian Association ex-president Bhagwat Singh and Pravasi Welfare Board ex-chairman PMA Salam.