Delhi High Court rolls out new guidelines for foreign prisoners

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The Delhi High Court has issued new guidelines dealing with the issue of foreign prisoners in Indian jails, who have completed their court mandated sentence.

The guidelines will ensure that any foreign prisoner, who has completed his sentence, is deported to his respective country within a period of two weeks. In cases where the nationality of the prisoner cannot be ascertained, he is to be issued a long-term visa and an identity certificate so that he can make a living here in India till the time more permanent steps can be taken. Such cases are also to be referred to the United Nations for resettlement outside India.

The guidelines further stipulate that all such detainees should be immediately shifted to detention centers from jails within a week of their sentence having been served. In addition, the respective governments would be notified a week prior to their release, and they will be afforded all legal assistance to ensure that they can return to their home countries as quickly as possible.

The plight of foreign prisoners in Indian jails came to light when one Shaikh Abdul Aziz filed a case against his wrongful imprisonment past his sentence term. The petitioner, an accused terror suspect was imprisoned for one year for entering India illegally. However, as the government failed to ascertain his country of origin, he languished in the Tihar jail for seven years. The court had earlier, ordered his release and had also asked the J&K government, the Delhi governments and the Center to compensate him with a amount of INR 2 lakh.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan in his position as amicus curiae in this case aided the court in drafting the guidelines to ensure that any foreign prisoners are not subjected to lengthy detentions in violation of their Right to Liberty.