Diaspora Urges Modi Government to Sign into Law, NRI Protection Bill that Protects Their Assets in India

Feature and Cover Diaspora Urges Modi Government to Sign into Law NRI Protection Bill that Protects Their Assets in India

In 2023, the Indian Police arrested five people involved in a most shocking incidence of forgery against NRIs. All the five accused, including a lawyer, had teamed up to forge the documents of an NRI’s land valued at Rs 40 crore. NRIs and OCIs, who live abroad most of the time in a calendar year, do often fall prey to such crimes as land encroachment, forgery, unauthorized money withdrawals…in India. Precisely, one out of every 3 NRIs is a victim of organized crime, according to the NRI Grievance Forum led by Indian American Subhas Balappanavar in San Francisco.

Indian Diaspora, at over 30 million, is not only the largest in the world but also more successful than any other immigrant community. Besides their substantial contribution to the economy of their country of residence, they play an important role in bolstering India’s foreign exchange reserves through investments, remittances and deposits. More than one-fourth of NRIs, OCIs and PIOs invest a significant portion of their overseas earnings in various sectors, including real estate, stocks, mutual funds and bonds, in India.

Some own ancestral properties in India, some others deposit their money in Indian bank accounts, and a large number of NRIs send money to their families and relatives back home. The total remittance inflow into India in 2023 accounts for $125 billion, which is higher than the net worth of the richest Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani. Notably, India is the largest recipient of foreign remittances. A common concern of the overseas Indian community with active financial ties to their homeland is their susceptibility to fraud and deception.

Non-residents are an easy target for scamsters who indulge in criminal activities from property encroachment to signature forgery and illegal bank withdrawals. And seeking legal action is full of challenges for NRI victims. They are often plagued by jurisdictional complexities, lack of proper awareness and guidance, and lengthy legal proceedings often requiring NRIs to be physically present for extensive documentation, court appearances, etc.

The grim situation of NRIs who lose their hard-earned money to swindlers prompted the NRI Grievance Forum to advocate for the ‘NRI Protection Bill’ at every Indian embassy and consulate, marking one of the largest worldwide initiatives by NRIs. This month, Subhas Balappanavar and his team visited all 6 consular offices across the USA and petitioned them to protect NRI investments and assets in India. They had already emailed their concerns to the Prime Minister of India and also submitted the memorandum at Indian consulates in East Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe and Canada.

The Forum urges the Indian Government to enact the NRI Investment Protection Bill and establish a centralized NRI Investigation Agency to address NRI grievances, digitize documentation processes, and provide timely resolution. Its other proposals include legal protection for property disputes, provisions for online FIR filing, online inquiry and documentation, 90-day timeframe for issue resolution, non-bailable warrants for accused parties, invalidation of counter FIR against NRIs, and prosecution of officers involved in false arrest of NRIs.

The NRI Protection Bill also advocates for a uniform tax structure for NRI taxation in India in terms of TDS etc. Swift repatriation of investments and online voting facility are other proposals of the bill. Assurance of safety and legal protection can go a long way in encouraging NRIs’ participation in the nation’s growth, reiterates Subhas Balappanavar. (Courtesy: Indian Eagle)

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