NEW DELHI – Indian SC has ordered that illegal jailing of Pakistan nationals should be stopped.
If the nationality of Pakistani prisoners in India is not confirmed by the Pakistani government, there is little India can do for their repatriation, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday on learning that sending back 29 prisoners who had completed their prison term was delayed because there was no response on their nationality from the Pakistani high commission.
However, a bench of Justices R M Lodha and A R Dave said the Supreme Court would not tolerate any unauthorized incarceration of Pakistani nationals who had completed their prison term.
It sent out a loud message to the administration by asking Jammu and Kashmir additional home secretary Dilshad Ahmed to show cause why contempt proceedings be not initiated against her for filing an affidavit in the apex court stating that a Pakistani prisoner, Sikander Azam, would be released in 2013 when he should have been freed in 2011 after serving his three-year sentence under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
J&K standing counsel Sunil Fernandes repeatedly requested the court for withdrawal of the show cause notice and said the additional home secretary would apologize for the mistake and be present in court to explain her position. But the bench brushed aside the request and asked her to respond to the notice by October 16.
The court ordered immediate release of Azam and directed that he be brought to Delhi and lodged at Lampur Sewa Sadan, a rehabilitation and reform home.
Petitioner and senior advocate Bhim Singh argued that the government was not doing enough to repatriate 29 Pakistanis who had served their sentences and were not wanted for any other offence.
But additional solicitor general P P Malhotra informed the court that the Indian government was ready to repatriate them once their nationality was confirmed by the Pakistani high commission.
The bench said, "If nationality of these prisoners is not confirmed by Pakistan for six months, what is the practical solution? Pakistan government should be concerned about their citizens. If they do not have a system, India cannot create one."
It also found that 46 Pakistani fishermen were detained in Gujarat and the state government had not registered any offence against them. The court was told that though the Gujarat government had already given its no-objection for their repatriation, their nationality was not confirmed by the high commission.
Taking the cases of Pakistani prisoners who have served their sentence and the fishermen, the bench expressed hope that "the Pakistani high commission will complete the exercise as early as possible and convey it to the Indian government".
Once the intimation about nationality came from Pakistani high commission, the government would take steps to repatriate them within four weeks, the bench ordered.