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SC directs UOI and J&K to file status quo report on Pakistani under-trials, detenus and prisoners

New Delhi: August 19, 2015. (PCP) A Division Bench of Supreme Court of India comprising JJ Mr. Justice J. Chelameswar and Mr. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre accepted submission by Prof. Bhim Singh, Sr. Advocate on behalf of the detenus and prisoners to file rejoinder within four weeks on the counter file by Union of India in connection with detentions, trials, conviction and repatriation of Pakistani, POK prisoners and fishermen languishing in Indian jails.

Prof. Bhim Singh was arguing for J&K National Panthers Party, State Legal Aid Committee and others who had challenged the continuous detention, trials and conviction of various courts in India and asked for immediate repatriation of all the foreign prisoners from Pakistan, POK, Bangladesh and other foreign countries who have been kept under illegal detention under PSA for years when PSA does not allow any person to be detained without trial beyond two years.

Prof. Bhim Singh informed the court that there are prisoners from Pakistan and POK who have been languishing in various jails of India even when the prisoners have exhausted maximum sentence and some of them have been in jails for over 17/18 years. He quoted one Mohd. Ashraf whose sentence expired in 1997. He is still in Amritsar for the past 18 years under the pretext that Govt. of India could not identify his nationality.

Prof. Bhim Singh also submitted that there are several hundred Pak and POK prisoners who have completed their sentences yet have not been repatriated under one pretext or the other. He gave example of one Syed Sajjad Ali Bukhari @Ali Bhai, s/o Syed Shahpal Bukhari, r/o Mandyari Sadian, Kotli, Muzaffrabad, POK who was set free three months back by District Sessions Judge, Jammu. He still in District Jail, Sangroor (Punjab).

Appearing for the Union of India, Mr. Ranjit Kumar, Sr. Advocate & Solicitor General of India who admitted that there are 234 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails besides 27 fishermen. He also admitted through a note submitted before the Supreme Court that 16 Pakistanis were repatriated this year before July and 9 fishermen. He also admitted before court that 47 Pakistani prisoners who have completed their sentences but still are detained in different jails. He admitted that there are several prisoners who have no cases registered against them but they could not be released because their nationality according to the Solicitor General has not been confirmed in years together. Most of them he said were detained in Central Jail, Amritsar and Bhuj. The Union of India also furnished a list of 73 Pakistani fishermen released by the Govt. who were repatriated to Pakistan by Govt. of India in 2014.

Prof. Bhim Singh strongly protested that several prisoners lodged in different jails outside J&K are not produced before the trial courts in J&K for no reason. He said that one Mohd. Abdullah lodged in Sangroor Jail, Punjab is an under-trial before Additional Sessions Judge, Jammu and Sessions Judge, Samba. His case is pending for several years but he is not produced deliberately by the police in spite of the direction of the Supreme Court of India in 2007 that trials of all prisoners from Pakistan should be concluded within one year. The court directed the Solicitor General to file status report.

Prof. Bhim Singh also requested the court to direct the Union of India to repatriate all the prisoners who have completed their sentences or who have no cases pending against them or whose trials have not been completed as per direction of the Supreme Court back to Pakistan or POK as this is the command of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Such fundamental freedom is not available in Pakistan or elsewhere or in any other democratic country of the world. The case has been fixed for second week of October, 2015.

Those who assisted Prof. Bhim Singh included, M/s. D.K. Garg, P.V. Yogeswaran, S.K. Bandhopadhyay, B.S. Billowria and others.