8189 Indians are lodged in jails of other countries. Most of them, i.e. around 1811 are in Saudi Arabia, followed by UAE, which has 1392 Indian prisoners. Nepal too has more than one thousand Indian nationals in its jails. The Ministry of External Affairs has published a country-wise list, which is available here. At the same time, thousands of foreigners are also languishing in Indian jails. Reports show that majority of them do not receive any Consular access. Jail in any place may be bad, but who does not desire home!
Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003 provides the remedy of transfer of prisoners from, or, to India. That is, an Indian national can be transferred to India. At the same time, a foreigner can be transferred to their home country. Of course, the process of transfer is rather long and involve multiple stakeholders, including national governments.
Between 2015-2019, 70 Indians lodged in foreign jails applied for a transfer to India. Out of these, only 17 could be transferred to India. Apart from them, 11 prisoners were released by the countries they were lodged in. 5 prisoners withdrew their application seeking a transfer. In 4 cases, the requests of prisoners were not approved by their host country itself.
The lengthy processes in transfer include “obtaining consent of the transferring country, availability of complete documentation necessary for processing the request, comments of the State Government and identification of the specific prison where the prisoner will be lodged on transfer to India, making escort arrangements of the prisoner by the State Government concerned from the foreign country to India, clearance from appropriate intelligence agencies etc. All these factors are relevant while processing a request for transfer.” As a result, the law does not mandate any timeline for the processing of applications.



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