Gehlot clears Pak prisoner's mercy plea

Gehlot clears Pak prisoner's mercy plea

A Supreme Court judge requested PM to release Chishty on humanitarian grounds

Gehlot clears Pak prisoner's mercy plea

Pakistani scientist Khaleel Chishty languishing in Ajmer Jail for 19 years can now return home with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot clearing his mercy plea.

The petition has been send to Governor Shivraj Patil for approval. Chishty had come to Ajmer to see his brother and ailing mother in 1992, but got implicated in a murder case and . the case dragged on for years. His relatives say he has become a victim of Indo-Pak tensions. He was recently convicted by an Ajmer court for life imprisonment.

However in an unprecedented step, Justice Markandeya Katju of the Supreme Court requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release the Pakistani prisoner on “humanitarian grounds” under Article 72 of the Constitution.

Pleading that the Pakistani prisoner is “old and infirm,” Justice Katju said: “It will be a disgrace for our country if he dies in jail. And as time is running out for Chishty. If a pardon is granted it will enhance the prestige of India.”

Following Justice Katju’s appeal, the Rajasthan government acted and Gehlot approved the mercy plea of Chishty. “We have been praying to Khwaja sahib that my brother should be released so that he can return home to his wife and children. He is in his final phase of life and we are afraid that he could expire any day,” Jameel Chishty, brother of Khaleel Chishty, said.

Human rights activists say 80-year-old Chishty has already suffered a lot. A heart patient for over 30 years, he can’t even walk on his own and was carried by others to the jail after the verdict. Many observers say that Chishty’s case raises serious questions about the slow pace of India’s judicial system, for it defies all logic why any court should take 19 years to decide a case that makes a man stay away from his county and his family.

Those lobbying for Chishty’s release say keeping him in jail makes a mockery of our justice system. “It’s a gross injustice to keep him in jail. If his case had been decided on time and even if he had been given a life sentence, he would have been free by now,” said Prem Kishan Sharma, president, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan.

Earlier, the PUCL had appealed in the Rajasthan High Court for his release but  it had turned down the appeal as it pertains to a foreign national.