A Dhaka court has questioned the “Delhi Treaty” under which Bangladesh agreed to return 195 Pakistani soldiers who had surrendered in the 1971 war. It has asked the government as to why it could not be directed to bring these men back for trial.

The Pakistan Army personnel, who were prisoners of war (POWs) in India’s custody, had been returned under a tripartite treaty in 1974.

The 195 were among the 93,000 Pakistani soldiers who surrenderd to the joint Indo—Bangladesh military command in December 1971 when Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan.

A former freedom fighter told the court that the then Bangladesh government had agreed to it. The repatriation of the Pakistani POWs to Pakistan in violation of Bangladesh statute.

Releasing those who were identified as “war criminals and accused of committing crimes against humanity”, violated Bangladesh’s constitution, the court was told.

New Age newspaper on Wednesday said while one judge rejected the petition, the other issued directives to the government to explain within four weeks “why the treaty should not be declared illegal”.

An attempt to challenge the treaty had not succeeded before the Supreme Court, the newspaper said.

Justice Syed Abu Kowser M. Dabirush—Shan asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to produce the Pakistani citizens before the War Crimes Tribunal that will hold the trials of Bangladeshis accused of committing crimes during the liberation war.

As it was a split verdict, the chief justice will constitute a fresh bench to hear the case, the newspaper said quoting counsel for the petitioner.

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