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Nirma prof’s RTI reveals 117 Indians in prison abroad despite serving sentences

Rohit Moonka
Rohit Moonka

A Right to Information request to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) revealed that 117 Indian prisoners are languishing in foreign jails even after completion of their prison sentence.

Pursuant to his RTI, Nirma Law University Ahmedabad assistant professor Rohit Moonka wrote to external affairs minister Salman Khurshid on 11 December and the President of India on 29 December requesting them to “look into [the] matter and see to it that every Indian who is languishing in foreign jail is not subjected to further hardship once they complete their sentence”.

He plans to petition the Supreme Court or write to the Chief Justice of India for action failing a response from Khurshid and the president in the next two weeks, he told Legally India.

Moonka, who obtained an LLM from GNLU Gandhinagar in 2009 and was attached to GNLU as a research fellow for a year before joining Nirma in December 2010, said: “I am teaching a paper of RTI in Nirma for the fourth time. As a part of the paper itself we do take up many social causes, which also have some public interest to them. I have been involved in some earlier activity regarding prisoners, have done a bit on undertrial prisoners at home and setting up a legal aid clinic in Sabarmati jail.”

Out of total 6,004 Indian prisoners currently in foreign jails 177 have already completed their sentence, according to the MEA’s reply to Moonka’s RTI. Bangladesh (57 prisoners) and Saudi Arabia (53) have incarcerated the highest number of Indians beyond their jail terms. The MEA wrote:

[…] There are about 6004 (this figure keeps changing) Indian prisoners lodged in foreign jails for crimes like violation of immigration/visa rules, overstay, illegal entry, robbery, non-possession of valid travel document, valid visa/permit, etc. However some Indians have also been jailed for grave offences like drug trafficking, murder, rape, etc. […]

Steps taken by our Missions include requesting local authorities for speedy trials, seeking remission of sentence, providing advice and guidance in legal and other matters, ensuring fair and humane treatment in foreign jails, issue of emergency certificates and repratiation to India of those who are released.

“The data is very shocking information,” said Moonka. “Something needs to be done. We should take up this matter further. Whatever crime they have done they have already been punished. This [incarceration beyond jail term] is a violation of basic human rights. We have various human rights treaties and conventions. Despite that, when we have such kind of treatment to diplomats who can say [what it is for the common man].”

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