M A I N   N E W S

Centre defends denial of entry to Pak acting CJ
Anger in legal circles
S. Satyanarayanan and Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Chandigarh, March 30
The Centre today strongly defended the decision of the Immigration Authorities at the Wagah border over the denial of entry to the kin of Acting Pakistan Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas saying "the denial was due to Justice Bhagwandas's family not having valid visa for Amritsar."

“There are certain laid out immigration rules and there was no goof-up on the part of the Immigration authorities...Had the Home Ministry been intimated by the visitor in advance this situation would not have arisen," Mr D S Misra, Joint Secretary (F) in the Ministry of Home Affairs told The Tribune.

  • The denial was due to Justice Bhagwandas’s family not having visa for Amritsar.
  • Disgusting and shameful, says Justice Rajinder Sachar.
  • Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association to seek President Kalam’s intervention.

Mr Misra, who took cognizance of the news report in The Tribune and sought immediate report from the Joint Director (Immigration), said "Justice Bhagwandas had a SAARC visa, which entitled him to travel to any part of India, and that is why he was not denied entry. However, his family members did not have visa permit for Amritsar, that is why the Immigration authorities could not allow them entry."

“As per the general visa norms, any Pakistani intending to visit India can visit three places and he or she has to notify the three places of visit at the time of seeking visa. And, if anyone wants to visit more than three places then there is a laid out procedure and the visa is issued only after the clearance from the Home Ministry," Mr Misra said.

“In this case, since Justice Bhagwandas and his family members had come by Lahore-Amritsar bus and there was no advance intimation about it, the immigration authorities could not have helped," he said.

The denial of entry to Pakistan's acting Chief Justice yesterday has invited anger and ridicule from various quarters.

While the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association has decided to seek the intervention of the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future, senior advocates and jurists have sought not allowed to do so from Amritsar after passing from Amritsar.

Incidentally, Mr Justice Rana was also bringing with him four volumes of the trial exhibits of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, which he was to present to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the occasion of the 75th year of their martyrdom. Before returning, he handed over the same to judicial officers.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Atul C. Lakhanpal, president, Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, while condemning the attitude of the authorities at Amritsar, disclosed that the association would seek the intervention of President Kalam in ensuring that such unsavory incidents are not repeated.

"Mr Justice Rana has been here earlier also. Such kind of acts don't do any good to the improving relations between India and Pakistan. Treating people like him as petty criminals is unfortunate and this has to stop once and for all," Mr Lakhanpal said.

Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice and renowned human rights activist Justice Rajinder Sachar has said the incident could only be described as disgusting and shameful.

"SAARC countries have already decided that sitting judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts don't require visa to visit the SAARC countries. Stupid technicalities might have stood in the way but I believe that the authorities at Wagah and even the Punjab and Central governments lacked complete sensitivity at the way protocol was not observed," Justice Sachar said.

Justice Sachar also said the excuse about the failure of the authorities at Wagah to contact the Home Ministry officials in Delhi was puerile because no such official sanction from Delhi was required.

"I have no doubt that the visit of Mr Justice Rana with his family was well known to the highest authorities concerned. But, notwithstanding that, he was not received with full honour and courtesy due to a neighbouring country's Acting Chief Justice. This speaks a lot about the lack of our friendly neighbourliness and sensitivity," he added

Justice Sachar also hoped that necessary action would be initiated to set right the discourtesy shown to Mr Justice Rana.

Senior Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer and former Advocate General, Haryana, Mohan Jain has also condemned the incident, urging strict action against the erring officials.

"Were they terrorists that they were treated in such a manner? Such incidents don't auger well for the bonhomie between Indians and Pakistanis, particularly at such a crucial juncture," he remarked.

Meanwhile, the four volumes of material connected to the trial of the three martyrs reached the Punjab and Haryana High Court today and they were put on display at the museum established to commemorate the golden jubilee of the High Court at Chandigarh.


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