An Indian court has rejected a plea by 85-year-old Dr Syed Muhammad Khalil Chishti for his acquittal in a murder case for which he has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
In a blow that the Chishty family and the retired virologist will find it hard to recover from, the Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday upheld his life imprisonment.
Many sets of civil activists, led by National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy and other NGOs had asked the court to show mercy. The Indian government had also recommended the release to the chief minister of Rajasthan who had processed the mercy petition in a matter of hours and sent it to Governor Shivraj patil. However, the petition is still pending with the governor.
The governor has the power of remission of sentence under article 161 of the Indian Constitution.
Former Indian Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju had also written to the prime minister, seeking the government’s intervention in the matter. Katju, who is now the chairman of the Press council of India, had, in interviews and conversations, sought to create a climate of opinion in favour of mercy to the old and ailing Pakistani.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.