Illegal recruiting agents in India operating in the Gulf sector can face a jail term of up to five years and pay a fine of Indian Rs25,000 (about Dh2,000), said a senior official from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in New Delhi on Sunday.
The new regulations were put in place after India witnessed a considerable number of its citizens heading to the Gulf for employment being duped by unscrupulous agents in the country.
Sources at the ministry told Gulf News that incidents of violence by Indian labourers in Dubai and the growing number of cases of non-payment of salaries registered with the Indian missions in the Gulf had made it imperative for the government to amend the Immigration Act of 1983.
The act deals with emigration authorities, registration of recruiting agents, permits for recruiting agents, emigration clearance, appeals, offences and penalties etc.
According to the source from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the aim is to make the recruiting agents responsible if an Indian working overseas finds himself not being paid the amount promised to him during the time of his recruitment and contract signing in India.
A study tour to get a first hand information on the problems faced by Indian expatriates, especially the labourers, working in the Gulf was conducted by Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, early this year.
There are about 4,580 recruiting agents registered in India. About 2,500 are in business, while 120 agents had their licences cancelled for violations.
By making the rules stringent for recruiting agents in India, the government is holding the agents directly responsible if labourers recruited by them are faced with non-payment of wages.