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Updated: April 11, 2012 01:39 IST

Court: what's holding back hapless Pakistan prisoners?

J. Venkatesan
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Should not such matters be taken up at the highest level when the heads of the state meet ? asked the Supreme Court when hearing a PIL on the release of Pakistani prisoners.
The Hindu Should not such matters be taken up at the highest level when the heads of the state meet ? asked the Supreme Court when hearing a PIL on the release of Pakistani prisoners.

Expressing serious concern over the plight of 21 Pakistanis languishing in detention centres even after the completion of their sentence, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said this issue should be given top priority.

In an apparent reference to Sunday's meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari here, a Bench observed that this issue should have been sorted out between the two Heads of State.

The Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale was hearing a petition filed by Prof. Bhim Singh seeking a direction to the Centre to release Pakistani prisoners after the completion of their sentence. Apart from the 21 prisoners, there are 23 languishing in various jails.

“Such detention pains us,” Justice Lodha told Additional Solicitor-General P.P. Malhotra, referring to mentally unstable and deaf and dumb prisoners. “Topmost priority has to be given to these cases and issue should have been sorted out between the two Heads of State. Sixteen mentally unstable prisoners are there. For how many years can they be in jail? The problem is they are not being sent back to Pakistan even after completion of their sentence. They are mentally unsound and deaf and dumb. They have been kept in jail because of some problem, but that cannot be an indefinite exercise.”

Mr. Malhotra said the matter was being taken up with the Pakistan High Commissioner. The Centre's affidavit, giving details of various prisoners, said these 21, sixteen of them mentally unsound, were in Punjab and the State government was treating them.

When Mr. Bhim Singh suggested that the Pakistan government publish photographs of the prisoners in Pakistan newspapers, Justice Lodha said: “We can't compel the Pakistan High Commission. India can only suggest. But the lead has to be taken by the Pakistan High Commission as deportation can't be done without identification. These are deaf and dumb people. They have no names. It is terribly inhuman. They are here for the past 10 years.”

The judge said: “There is no doubt that the best of facilities are being provided to such prisoners in detention centres but the problem is they are not being repatriated. What is the impediment?”

When Mr. Malhotra said that these prisoners could not be sent back without their identification being proved, Justice Lodha said: “How will you do that even after six months or one year? The problem will continue. You must tell us what should be done.”

The Bench asked the ASG to discuss the issue with Mr. Bhim Singh and with the government, and inform the court on May 2.

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My son namely, Sikandar-e-Azam Sani s/o Muhammad Khalid Butt has completed even his additional 6-month rigorous imprisonment on 20th January, 2012 but he is still confined in the central jail, kot Bhalwal, Jammu. His court fine amounting to Rs.3000/- was also deposited with the Superintendent of the above jail on 30th December, 2011 by Prof. Bhim Singh, Chairman, National Panthers Party. His nationality status being a Pakistani National has already been confirmed since long and forwarded to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. Honorable Judges of the apex Supreme Court of India are requested kindly to issue orders for immediate release/repatriation of my son.

from:  Muhammad Khalid Butt
Posted on: Apr 11, 2012 at 12:47 IST

Irrespective of whether Pakistan releases Indian Prisoner or not, India as a Democratic Country with a Constitution of it's own has no moral and legal right to detain any person even one day more than required by Law of India. This should not be linked to Indian prisoners in Pakistan. If Pakistan is not doing adequately to release Indian Prisoners, India has to strongly deal with Pakistan and hold concerned persons in Pakistan responsible for it.

from:  Kalidas
Posted on: Apr 11, 2012 at 00:10 IST

Supreme Court's suggestion is ideal but will the Pakistni government has the diplomacy to work in the same way and resolve the issue of identity of the prisoners who are mentally unsound

from:  Geetanjali
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 15:36 IST

Some initiative SC has taken that defines how our views are changing. This is highly appreciated.

from:  Raghvendra Sahu
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 14:39 IST

A noble gesture by the Supreme court.

from:  Vignesh
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 13:08 IST

SC's comments on pakistani prisoners are welcome but what about Indian
prisoners in Pakistan's prisons? For how long India will continue to
clap with one hand!

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 12:54 IST
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