The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central government on a plea filed by Gulf Telangana Welfare and Cultural Association president Pathkuri Basanth Reddy urging the court to direct the government to bring back workers from the Gulf.
A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana issued notice to the Centre and sought its response on the public interest litigation (PIL), which highlighted that around 44 Indians are facing death sentences and 33,940 Indian workers have died in the past six years in the Gulf countries.
The focal point of the respective plea filed through Advocate Hitendra Nath Rath is that Indians going abroad for employment often find themselves embroiled in the unorganised sector, particularly those from states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The plea urges the Court to issue directions to assist Indians in Gulf countries financially and legally for their rehabilitation by comprehensive scheme and to set up a help centre to return India due to loss of jobs, harassment from employers, cheating by agents etc.
Another claim made by the plea, as to cheating by agents wherein several innocent Indians are promised work, or job abroad.
The petitioner affirms that when the workers are sent to Gulf countries by agents, "their salary is very low, payment of salary is not done, some of them were sold by the agents and there is no life security."
In the Petition, a Gulf news website report dated November 17, 2019, has been cited where a Hyderabad-based web agency was exposed repeatedly for cheating people in the name of jobs in Gulf Countries.
Plea reads as below,
"Due to the adverse circumstances many of them are compelled to become slaves, bonded. There are many incidents of people sent through agents sold out to locals. Women workers are harassed and forced to become sex workers. In some cases women workers were beaten and locked up in houses."
Furthermore, it is stated that Indian embassies in many cases are not working proactively. They are also not adopting any effective measure to bring workers back as it is being done from other countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Bangladesh etc. through exchange programs or good will gestures.
The petitioner adds,
"... for protecting the rights of Indian workers in the Gulf region, several Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) have been signed between India and the Gulf countries. In spite of these MoUs signed, one cannot overlook the violations of Human rights of the migrant workers. The workers employed in the destination countries are subjected to abuse and exploitation, long tedious working hours, delays in payment to name a few."
Moreover, plea seeks for the court to issue guidelines and to set up a grievance redressal cell to bring back the dead bodies of Indian citizens who have died abroad and to give financial aid/insurance and legal aid to the families of the deceased.
This petition has also implored the Court to designate Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the Nodal Agency to investigate crimes relating to illegal trafficking, cases against agents in India and abroad, atrocities by employees etc.
The petitioner through this petition pleads to extend legal aid through the National Legal Services Authority or any other authority to represent the 8,189 Indian citizens lodged in the jails of foreign/Gulf countries and around 44 Indian citizens facing the death sentence in Gulf countries.