Hearing a bunch of petitions the Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday directed the centre government to file a status report with respect to the steps being taken for repatriation of around 12,000 prisoners languishing in United Arab Emirates(UAE) jails for petty offences.
The bench headed by acting chief justice MM Kumar also issued the directions to the union ministry of external affairs to inform about the status of around 18 Punjabi youths(as per Punjab government) stranded in Iraq and confirm whether they want to come back. Directions were also issued to a two member committee constituted by the high court to look into the whereabouts of 37 missing Spain-bound youngsters from Punjab in 2007 to inform the court about the way out to get their present status so that they can also be repatriated back.
The committee consists of VK Bhawra, inspector general of police (intelligence) Punjab and Neeraja Gotru, deputy inspector general of central bureau of investigation (CBI), New Delhi. During the hearing of the case counsel appearing for the Punjab government submitted that the Punjab police has contacted the family members of 17 persons presently in Iraq but they do not want to file any complaint against the travel agents involved in sending them abroad allegedly in illegal manner. However, amicus curiae in the case advocate Anil Malhotra informed the bench that as per the news item in a national newspaper on October 31, around 12,000 Indian prisoners languishing in UAE jails are expected to return to India in exchange of a lone UAE citizen in an Indian prison. As per the news report the 2 countries are expected to sign a prisoner swap agreement in next few weeks.
The bench also issued directions to Malhotra to submit concrete suggestions on the basis of which Indians languishing in jails of various countries can be brought back.
In his reply submitted by the Punjab inspector general of police (intelligence) submitted before the bench that till date 37 persons from Punjab stranded in Iraqw have returned back to India, 11 criminal cases have been registered, 4 travel agents have been arrested and one case has been challaned to the court.
However, regional passport officer at Chandigarh, Rakesh Agrawal submitted in an affidavit that there are about 25 million overseas Indians spread over 110 countries across the globe and out of these approximately 5 million are Indian passport holders and 90% of them work in the Gulf region.
He further added that as per the data of union ministry of home affairs in 2010, a total number of 11,942 Indian were deported from various countries for violating immegration and other laws of that country and maximum i.e. 2,149 were deported from Thailand.