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HC orders release of 46 Pak prisoners
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 26
In a major decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered the immediate release of 46 prisoners hailing from Pakistan, including three minor children. Out of 46 prisoners , 42 are those who are languishing in various jails of Punjab despite their prison term having ended a long time ago.

Disposing of a PIL seeking directions to the Government of India and other respondents to initiate steps to facilitate the release and return of Indian citizens languishing in various Pakistani jails despite their prison term having ended, the Division Bench also ordered that each of the 42 prisoners, who have been kept in jail despite the completion of their term, be paid a compensation of Rs 10,000 for every year that he spent in jail after the completion of his sentence.

The PIL had been filed by the World Human Rights Protection Council through its chairman, advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal.

The Bench also directed that in the event of any of the prisoners not being released immediately, he would be entitled to additional compensation at the rate of Rs 100 for every day that he spent in the jail from today.

The 46 prisoners who have been ordered to be released include Pakistani woman Mumtaz and her three minor children, who were sometime ago lodged together inside Central Jail, Amritsar, on the orders of the high court.

Referring to the plight of the minor children of Mumtaz, who had been booked under various clauses, the Bench, while ordering quashing of the FIRs registered against them, observed that no FIR should have been registered against the three minor children in the first place.

The Bench also hoped that the Pakistan Government and its courts would also take steps to repatriate Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails, whose sentence had ended but were still in jails.

As per the list submitted in the court by the government, the sentence of Abdul Sharif, who is lodged in Central Jail, Amritsar, ended on July 17, 1997, while that of Mukhtiar Ahmed ended on December 14, 1998. There are a total of 89 Pakistani prisoners in various jails of Punjab.

The government had stated that the 42 prisoners whose jail term had ended were waiting to be repatriated to their country but in the absence of travel documents this could not become possible.

Today, Mr Lakhanpal informed the Bench that according to a letter sent to him by a Pakistani lawyer, many Indian prisoners languishing in jails in Pakistan have lost their mental balance.

Informing the court about the case of Mumtaz and her three minor children, he stated that Mumtaz, originally hailing from Pakistan, married Ibrahim some years ago. Three children were born out of the wedlock.

About one-and-a-half years ago, Ibrahim, who hailed from Bangladesh, took Mumtaz and his children to his native place in Bangladesh, only to desert them for another woman, with whom he left for Saudi Arabia. He also took away their passport and other documents.

Left with no option, Mumtaz and her minor children managed to somehow reach Amritsar, where they were staying, waiting for an opportunity to cross-over to Pakistan. However, the police caught them on January 26 and booked them under the Foreigners' Act for staying in India without any permission.

Mr Lakhanpal informed the court that Mumtaz's three minor children - Sohail (8), Asha (10) and another son (6) had also been booked. “How could a six year-old be booked for a serious offence in the first place is beyond comprehension,” he stated.


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