SC raps Centre for prolonged detention of Pakistani prisoners

SC raps Centre for prolonged detention of Pakistani prisoners

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the “laxity” and “lethargy” of the Central government in dealing with the issue of prisoners from neighbouring Pakistan and other countries languishing in Indian jails even after completion of their sentences.

A bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale directed the government to deport those foreign nationals whose national status has been identified “as early as possible and in no case in more than a month”. “The court is dissatisfied with the progress of the matter. How many times the matter has come to us? Everytime, you are trying to pass the buck. How does our Constitution permit such incarceration,” the Bench asked.

Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Centre had a tough time convincing the court. He wanted the court to grant further time to prepare the list of the prisoners who had already served their prison term.

“A man who served his sentence in October, 2009 died in July, 2011 in jail here. A person can’t reach his soil due to your laxity and lethargy. It is only because of the orders from this court that the government acted,” the Bench pointed out.

The court was hearing two separate PILs filed in 2005 concerning the alleged prolonged incarceration of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals in Indian jails. The court referred to an affidavit filed by the Union Home Ministry on November 28, last year to point out that the deportation of several foreign nationals could not take place due to “delayed special consular access”. “We are constrained to observe the Union of India has failed to see the concern and urgency called for by the prisoners’ rights and personal liberty,” the Bench said.

In an order, the court, after going through records, further pointed out the clause 4 of the agreement entered into by Indian and Pakistan governments on May 21, 2008 – which provided for giving consular access to every prisoners within three months of arrest and detention – had not been complied with.

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