A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking directions to the Centre to frame a policy to provide free legal aid to Indian citizens living abroad.
NGO Pravasi Legal Cell filed the public interest litigation claiming that India has the world's largest diaspora according to the United Nations.
The petition claimed that over 17 million people born in India now live elsewhere in the world and of these, many are semi-skilled and low-skilled workers.
"One of the biggest problems faced by such workers is that they do not have any knowledge about the local laws or how their rights are protected in such countries because of which they face violation of their basic rights on foreign land due to lack of any legal aid," the plea filed through advocate Jose Abraham read.
The NGO also said in its petition that the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, in reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, had said that around 7,850 Indians are lodged in jails abroad, with over 2,000 in Saudi Arabia.
"Most of them are under trials or victim 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 claimed.
The NGO said that under Article 39-A of the Constitution of India, the government has the duty to provide free legal aid to its citizens which would include those "who cannot access justice due to economic and other disabilities while living abroad".
It has said that the objective can be achieved with the support and assistance of the Indian missions abroad.
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