Although almost 80% of Indian prisoners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are eligible for relocation to Indian jails under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement, only about 10% wish to serve their remaining sentence back home.
"We have received about 120 applications from prisoners expressing their interest to be transferred to Indian jails," Khaleej Times quoted India's ambassador to the UAE, T.P. Seetharam as saying Wednesday.
The number of applications constitute only about 10 percent of the total number of Indian prisoners in the UAE while almost 80% of them were eligible for relocation to Indian jails according to the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement signed by the two countries in November, 2011.
The treaty allows convicted Indians in the UAE to serve out their remaining sentences in jails in their home country provided they satisfy the clauses.
The ambassador conducted a survey among the 1,000-odd Indian prisoners languishing in jails across the UAE.
After visiting the central prison in Abu Dhabi Wednesday, Seetharam said that the embassy had already forwarded the applications it received from the applicants to the UAE authorities.
"Now, we need to get the approval from the UAE authorities. After that we will take it up with the ministry of home affairs in India which will then contact the respective governments of states where the prisoners wish to be transferred," Seetharam said.
According to the agreement, prisoners have to voluntarily choose the place they want to be transferred.
Community leaders and volunteers assisting the missions with jail visits earlier said that the treaty had received a mixed response from the Indian prisoners.
According to them, the majority of the Indian prison inmates preferred to stay back in the UAE due to the better facilities and because they did not want people back home to know about their crimes and jail terms.
Seetharam said the conditions in the Abu Dhabi prison he visited seemed reasonably good.
"I spent more than two hours over there and spoke to about 60 Indian prisoners. I did not receive any complaint about the conditions in the prison," the ambassador said.
However, some of the prisoners said that they did not have any money to make calls to their families and some needed legal assistance.
"We will be making some arrangements for these people," Seetharam said
The transfer pact applies to those who have already been convicted. Undertrials will not be eligible for this benefit.
The crime should be punishable in both the countries.
A prisoner who wishes to be transferred must have a minimum of six months of jail term left and there should not be any pending case against him or her.Both the governments of the host and receiving countries have the right to accept or reject the requests of the prisoners.
According to the agreement, the airfare for prisoners being sent to their country would be borne by the sending country.