For­eign In­ves­ti­ga­tions

India Today - - UPFRONT - Il­lus­tra­tion by TANMOY CHAKRABORT­Y

Over the past cou­ple of weeks, the Delhi High Court has weighed in on the treat­ment of for­eign pris­on­ers in In­dian jails. A re­port by lawyer Ajay Verma, ap­pointed as part of a public in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion to in­ves­ti­gate the con­di­tions in which foreigners are held, con­vinced the court that all pris­on­ers’ ac­cess to their em­bassies needed to be en­sured. Verma con­fined his study to Delhi, find­ing that even in the cap­i­tal al­most three quar­ters of pris­on­ers didn’t re­ceive con­sular ac­cess. The most re­cent na­tion­wide sta­tis­tics on for­eign pris­on­ers in In­dia is from 2015. The for­eign pris­on­ers, mostly from Bangladesh, al­leged that In­dian pris­on­ers find it eas­ier to get bail even if the crime com­mit­ted is the same. They also said they found court pro­ceed­ings dif­fi­cult to fol­low, mostly due to lan­guage prob­lems. Mean­while, thou­sands of In­di­ans are cur­rently in prisons mostly in Gulf states, par­tic­u­larly Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE, and con­sular ac­cess is es­sen­tial to se­cure amnesties, par­dons and com­muted sen­tences.

6,185

for­eign pris­on­ers in In­dia, ac­cord­ing to Prison Sta­tis­tics of In­dia (2015). About 1.5% of the to­tal prison pop­u­la­tion

54

of these for­eign pris­on­ers in Delhi are women. 20 bail ap­pli­ca­tions are pend­ing in court, 7 have been re­jected and 13 have not ap­plied. Of 324 men, 57 bail pleas were filed

10

min­utes of phone calls per­mit­ted to for­eign pris­on­ers once a week at their ex­pense. In­dian pris­on­ers get 5 min­utes per day

8,189

In­dian pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing ‘un­der­tri­als’, be­ing held in for­eign jails as of May 31, ac­cord­ing to min­istry of ex­ter­nal affairs sta­tis­tics pre­sented in the Ra­jya Sabha

222

for­eign pris­on­ers out of 3,908 (5.68%) re­ceived con­sular ac­cess, said a 2019 Com­mon­wealth Hu­man Rights Ini­tia­tive re­port track­ing pris­on­ers in 22 states and 4 UTs

1,811

of these pris­on­ers are in Saudi Ara­bian jails, 1,392 are in the UAE and 1,160 in Nepal

378

foreigners held in Delhi prisons, says re­port by lawyer Ajay Verma pre­sented to the Delhi High Court on July 24. 75% have no con­sular ac­cess af­ter their ar­rest

3,087

In­dian pris­on­ers in the Gulf, since 2016, have re­ceived amnesty or had their sen­tences com­muted through con­sular in­ter­ven­tion

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