Almost 80 per cent of Indian prisoners in the UAE are eligible for relocation to Indian jails but only 10 per cent wish to serve the remainder of their sentence back home, citing reasons like better facilities.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE T P Seetharam said under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement signed between India and the UAE in November 2011, almost 80 per cent of Indian prisoners are eligible for relocation to Indian jails.
"We have received about 120 applications from prisoners expressing their interest to be transferred to Indian jails," Seetharam said after visiting a central prison in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
This constitutes only about 10 per cent of the total number of Indian prisoners in the UAE, he told Khaleej Times.
Majority of prisoners preferred to stay back in the UAE due to the better facilities and because they had not revealed about their sentences to people back home.
Some of the prisoners said they do not have any money to make calls to their families, while others need legal assistance in making appeals for clemency.
Seetharam said the conditions in the 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."
Seetharam said the embassy had already forwarded the applications it received 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," he said.
The prisoners transfer pact applies to those who have already been convicted and not to under-trials. The crime should be punishable in both the countries and they will have to serve the remainder of their sentence specified in the host country.
The prisoner wishing to be transferred must have a minimum of six months of jail term left and there shouldn't be any pending case against him or her.
The choice to be transferred has to be made voluntarily by the prisoners. Community leaders and volunteers assisting the missions with jail visits had earlier said that the treaty had elicited mixed response from Indian prisoners.
Both the governments of the host and receiving countries have the rights to accept or reject prisoners' requests.
The Indian mission had initiated proceedings for implementing the agreement after it was ratified by President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan earlier last year.
The UAE had signed a similar pact with Pakistan in February 2012.