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SC refuses to entertain plea seeking SOP for Indians’ safety in foreign countries

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea of a man, who was earlier detained “illegally” in the UAE over mistaken identity, seeking framing of guidelines to ensure the safety of Indians in foreign countries.

Refusing to lay down standard operating procedures (SOP) for Indians’ safety in offshore nations, a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha, however, acknowledged the ordeal of detention faced by Noida-based businessman Praveen Kumar.

Kumar was detained at the Abu Dhabi airport as his face allegedly matched with a “wanted criminal” in a face recognition software on October 11 last year and had to remain in illegal detention for almost four days.

“How can we ask the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to frame the standard operating procedures (SOP)? We have Indian embassies for such purposes… a person will be governed by the law of a particular country,” the bench said.

“We cannot direct the MEA to frame guidelines. Thousands of Indians go abroad. We began by saying that you faced hardship. Can we ask the MEA to say that a person cannot be arrested abroad,” the CJI said.

The bench said that if a person is detained illegally, they can seek consular access and an SOP will not serve the purpose, the bench said.

“What you are seeking is not permissible in law,” it said.

Kumar, who was detained in Abu Dhabi on his way to Europe, had made the MEA, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) here as parties.

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