New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL seeking directions to the Centre to frame a policy for providing free legal aid services to Indians living abroad, saying foreign countries might have their own laws on the issue and the courts here could not interfere in that. Also Read - Ramadan 2021: Ramzan Fast to Begin From Tomorrow, Saudi Arabia Announces
“How can it be granted? They (foreign countries) will have their own laws. Whatever we say might not be binding on the courts there,” a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao said, while asking the NGO that had moved the plea to withdraw it. Also Read - Japanese Women's Team Pulls out of Asian Wrestling
The Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Acharya, told the court that there was a policy in place under which some kind of assistance was provided by the Indian government to its citizens living or working abroad. Also Read - Saudi Arabia Makes Coronavirus Vaccine Mandatory For Hajj Pilgrimage As COVID Cases Soar
The ASG, however, did not give the details about the nature of assistance provided.
Since the court made it clear that it would not entertain the matter, the NGO — Pravasi Legal Cell — withdrew the petition.
The plea, filed through advocate Jose Abraham, had contended that semi and low-skilled Indian workers abroad were often unaware about the laws of those countries, leading to violation of their basic rights.
The NGO had also said in its petition that the Union minister of state for external affairs, replying to a query in the Lok Sabha, had said around 7,850 Indians were lodged in jails abroad with over 2,000 in Saudi Arabia.
“Most of them are undertrials or victims of fraud. Most of such cases against Indian workers abroad could have either been avoided or saved from prosecution had there been proper legal assistance at the right time,” the plea had said.
It had also said that under Article 39-A of the Constitution, the government had the duty to provide free legal aid services to its citizens, including those “who cannot access justice due to economic and other disabilities while living abroad”.
It had added that the objective could be achieved with the support and assistance of the Indian missions abroad.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.