Supreme Court of India grants bail to Dr Chishti

Published: April 9, 2012

Dr Chishti was jailed in an Indian prison in Ajmer and had been sentenced to life imprisonment. PHOTO: FILE

The Indian Supreme Court on Monday not only ordered bail for Dr Khalil Chishti, the Pakistani scientist who has spent many years at a prison in Ajmer, but also agreed to hear a separate plea that he serve out the rest of his bail in Karachi.

The Supreme Court has asked Chishti’s lawyers to file a separate petition in regard to the plea.

Reportedly, Dr Chishti’s incarceration was discussed at the lunch meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday. Top Indian government sources said that the prime minister had indicated he would take personal interest in the matter.

This was after a plea for clemency which was processed by the provincial government and the Indian Home Ministry was held up by the Governor of Rajasthan, the province where Dr Chishti was arrested and convicted.

In June last year, Supreme Court Justice Markandeya Katju had requested Prime Minister Singh to release Dr Chishti on humanitarian grounds. Acting on Justice Katju’s appeal, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot approved his mercy plea and sent it to Governor Shivraj Patil for final clearance. After that, Patil sent a questionnaire to the law department on various issues related to the case.

Dr Chishti is nearly 80 now. Indian television channels showed a frail, wizened, bearded man, blinking in the sunlight, being carried by two persons out of the jail after the court order was pronounced. Chishti developed myriad health problems in jail, including a broken hip after a fall. He used a walker to move about but only very slowly.

Chishti is accused of killing a man during a brawl in Ajmer in April 1992. He was visiting the Rajasthan city then to offer prayers at the famous shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. Since then, he has not been allowed to travel back to Pakistan.

In January last year, the Karachi virologist was awarded life imprisonment after an 18-year-long trial. Till then, he had remained largely under house arrest in Rajasthan, his lawyers say. After he was given the life sentence, he was placed in the Ajmer Jail. Some others convicted in the same case had been granted bail. Dr Chishti’s Pakistani citizenship meant he was not allowed to leave prison.

Chishti’s release and the Supreme Court’s intervention will give another boost to the ongoing confidence building measures between India and Pakistan. India is hoping to hear good news about the fate of Sarabjit Singh who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying, though he says he merely strayed into Pakistan by mistake.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Cynical
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:13PM

    Good news.

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  • Junaid
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:32PM

    Thanks for this gesture India,And i am sure there must be some Indian prisoner somwhere in Pakistan who we can release on humanitiarian grounds too..This act should be reciprocated.

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  • Zeta
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:33PM

    Good gesture, and let him back to his family. 20 years spent inside bars is enough punishment.

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 1:35PM

    It took 19 years to serve justice ?

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  • siddiqui
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:40PM

    nice stance of supreme court of india

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 1:41PM

    Oh, no Indian friend bothered to share his/her expertise here?

    :)

    Hope that the old man is allowed to return home, so he can spend his last days with his family.

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  • pervaiz memon
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:42PM

    we can save thousands of people from both by ending the ” Hate policy ” . After all they are human being no mater from which side they belong . Pakistan also release prisoners from their side .

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  • Jenai dau
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:57PM

    Indian goverment should compensate him for wasting 20 years of his life.

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 2:32PM

    Congratulations. Indeed a very Good news : )

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  • Brajanarayan
    Apr 9, 2012 - 2:39PM

    Definitely a good news. Nation and its organs must keep humane value above all other controversies.

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  • Shah
    Apr 9, 2012 - 2:51PM

    Good to hear. Amidst the political tensions, the peace activists on both sides are the only ray of hope for the countries

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 3:10PM

    So much for the justice and independence of Indian Courts.
    President visits one day and coincidentally, the court grants bail the next day.

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  • raw is war
    Apr 9, 2012 - 3:18PM

    kudos to Zardari.

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  • malatesh
    Apr 9, 2012 - 4:01PM

    @All above

    He is is not released, he is out on bail tempororily. Its long way to go to make him free from charges he facing.

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 4:26PM

    Listen guys, first read about the case before passing judgements. The guy comitted a murder on the premises of the holy shrine. Apparently it was “done by mistake” whatever that means, but he deserved to be punished

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 4:52PM

    Both In India or in Pakistan the justice is often delayed in favor of the rich,reporting is shoddy facts deliberately withheld or mis represented.Here are the facts,murder took place in 1992,he was arrested and was on bail till 31 st jan 2011,when he was convicted for life,so he was in jail for 3months and 10 days,his only so called punishment was he was not allowed to leave for Pakistan for 19 years as his case was decided in 2011,it is not surprising in murder case rich and influencial stay out of jail ,he was 60 when crime happened now he is 80 and sick,so you figure how much he has suffered ,his family in India brother,mother etc took care of him,and they are very well to do,so do not shed tears,ofcourse one can kick around Indian court system,it deserve it,but Pakistan is not better either..Am I a journalist,if I can get facts why not others?,now he is free on bail again,money talks and B.S. walks,it is a fact of life in India,just do not be poor,does not matter if you are hindu/muslim.With big political pull,Zardari visit it all happened,pl,do not delude yourself,zardari ,gandhi are real movers and shakers the public naive and imbecile.Good day.

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  • Thomas
    Apr 9, 2012 - 4:57PM

    @Jenai dau:

    He is accused of murder, there is no bail for murder suspects. This is just a humanitarian gesture. I don’t think he can leave India.

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  • Shah
    Apr 9, 2012 - 5:21PM

    good

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  • abid
    Apr 9, 2012 - 5:25PM

    To all,
    Here is the real difference of the ‘thinking’ & intellectual biasness or Un-biasness of the readers/commentators of the English News Paper of Pakistan and India. There are also comments in below address on the same event. I would suggest everyone to just read 1st 20 comments from each sides (because these are the people who give spontenous comments within an hour or two of the actual ‘news-break’). And this shows the very feeling of educated people of both side for the other. Can anyone tell me who has the feeling of ‘live and let live’ and who has ‘hatred’ for other side…????

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Supreme-Court-grants-bail-to-Pak-national-Dr-Khalil-Chisti/articleshow/12593656.cms

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  • ali
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:03PM

    The decision exposes the morally corrupt Indian judiciary. Poor old guy is over 80 years of age and has already spent 20 years in jail. This makes it two full life terms under Indian law.

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  • BlackJack
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:30PM

    @Jenai dau:
    @Usman Malik:
    @Pakistan politics:
    Pls note – the old man is guilty of murder. Second, he has not spent 20 years behind bars – in fact, less than a year; there are millions of cases pending before our overworked judiciary – Dr. Chishty’s is one of them. This is a humanitarian gesture that needs to appreciated if you are capable of such a feeling.
    @Abid:
    The comments section of ToI is not filtered – anyone can come up with anything and they will publish it. If ET had the same policy, none of (I can safely speak for a large number of educated reasonable Indians AND Pakistanis in this case) would be found here either.

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  • Babloo
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:40PM

    Some people commenting here are forgetting that Mr Chisti, killed a member of his family, publicly. The facts of the case are not in dispute. So Mr Chisti has been in jail for a crime he commiitted and which he acknowledges. So the supreme court has granted him bail on humanitarian grounds. Instead of applauding it some are just raising baseless comments.

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  • Indian
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:41PM

    @abid: have you seens your difa e pakistan council meeting. Opening they are against India. Your government give protection to people who bomb inside India. Your common man glorifies killers like Qadri. This is the truth. In India, state do not allow illegal activity against Pakistan. This shows who believe in “live and let live”. We may disagree with you but we don’t do proxy war like what pakistan did in past.
    @Jenai dau: He is granted bail which means that he did commit a crime. One thing you should understand is that he has committed a crime. He isn’t innocent. Only thing is that now that he is so old and the case has been going on for so long, on humanitarian ground court should release Dr. Chisti.

    I am happy he is on bail and hopefully will be reunited with his family.

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  • Intelectual
    Apr 9, 2012 - 8:00PM

    @abid Do you think Pakistani readers too reacted same way had Sarabjit Singh languishing in Pakistani jail for “commuting terrorist act” in Pakistan is released? Had Sarabjit gone through the same legal system what Chisti faced in India, he would been a free man long back, may be faced couple of years in jail for smuggling contraband. There are hundreds of Chistis in Indian jails. and Chisti is lucky. SO, Indian readers have every right to question the rotten system, albeit at the cost of Chisti.

    Coming to your views on Indian intellectual readers opinion in TOI, that is how the democracy in India work. Hundreds and thousands of different opposing view points on any given issue, and that is why India is called mother of all democracies. This is not specific to Pakistani issues alone. It is a daily grind here. You are lucky, that in Pakistan you have unity of voices, and accept whatever stories told to you by whoever in a position to tell the stories.

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  • reasonable
    Apr 9, 2012 - 8:13PM

    @Jenai dau:
    Hey!! this guy wasnt imprisoned for spying he was involved in a small dispute which led to a murder and by the way he wasnt imprisoned for 19 years the this news itself says most of the time he was under house arrest.

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  • Optimist
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:05PM

    Its sad to see that courts in India are not serving jusitce but decide on political pressure!
    .

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  • JSM
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:07PM

    Ali,

    Supreme Court of India has clarified that in India, lifetime means for the whole life- period.

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  • Jan
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:24PM

    @Intelectual:
    That is not true sir… we also differ on many issues in Pakistan… secular against the extremists… we are in a state of war… BUT when indians start criticizing the pakistani nation as a whole, they all unite together and thats the beauty of Pakistanis… time and time again… as I have said we need to put our house in order and we dont need advise from you guys… .india has its own problems and you should spend your energy in sorting those problems instead of pointing fingers at us….

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  • Bombay dude
    Apr 10, 2012 - 12:36AM

    we can fight all we want, but I guess common citizens should not be subjected to enmity between countries. At least the basic decency which we should maintain. That Dr Christi had to wait 18 years just to get sentenced is itself a horrific experience. It is seriously bad to live for 18 years not having a clear picture of your future. But I do ascertain my Pakistani friends here that this is not unique to Dr Christi here, this is in fact quite common in Indian legal system. If justice was quick in India many crimes could be resolved. But Alas!, we are a citizen of a rusted system inherited from Britishers. Anyways, glad at least Dr Christi ( may god bless him longer life ) will at least die a free man.

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  • ufaquarian
    Apr 10, 2012 - 1:55AM

    @Bombay dude – Thank you for bringing some sense to the discussion . Really appreciate it. Both Indian and Pakistani citizens should work towards peace.

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  • Shock Horror
    Apr 10, 2012 - 1:59AM

    @Jenai dau:
    Hw is a killer convicted by a court!

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  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:04AM

    Pakistan and India should pressure their politicians for reform in justice system and reforming prisons buildings and conditions of humans. If a prisoner pleads guilty for a crime and spares the victim from the trauma of testifying, except for murder, they should recieve credit of two days for each one day of presentence incarceration. Taking this in to account here eighteen years of presentencing sentence credit will be one day for each presentence day and he served one year equals to ninteen years of jail time served. This bail is nothing but a parole for serving ninteen years out of a twenty five year jail term for murder (twenty five years is equal to one life time term). Justice was served properly in terms of time served. Here nobody is saying any prayers for the victim who lost a precious life.

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  • gp65
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:48AM

    @Pakistan politics: “It took 19 years to serve justice ?”

    He has been given bail because of his advanced age. He has not been proven innocent. He had killed another Muslim in an open dargah with dozens of eye witnesses. So justice was served when he was imprisoned, it is on humanitarian basis that he is being let go now.

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  • Mirza
    Apr 10, 2012 - 6:53AM

    Even the murderers at this ripe age deserve leniency and mercy. It is to the credit of the Indian SC that they have taken their elected PM and Pakistani govt’s appeals and showed flexibility and not rigidity and arrogance. I am not talking bad about anybody but appreciating a good humane and flexible approach of the Indian SC. However, for some if the shoe fits wear it! Kudos to both the leaders and the SC.

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  • Mirza
    Apr 10, 2012 - 7:32AM

    That is how a SC of 1.2 billion people respects the two elected leaders and shows flexibility and goodwill without any delay.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/10-Apr-2012/indian-sc-cites-zardari-s-visit-while-giving-bail-to-chishti
    “Chishti was granted bail a day after his case was discussed between the authorities of the two countries during Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India. During the hearing, the bench also made a reference to Zardari’s visit and said “Let us hope what has happened yesterday will continue”. “What we have read from today’s newspapers is that good things are happening,” the bench observed.”

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  • Justice for Idris Chishty
    Apr 11, 2012 - 1:45AM

    This is injustice. We are forgetting about the victim in this despicable murder.

    Khalil Chishty killed Idris Chishty, a distant family relative. Khalil shot dead Idris at a family function in front of a number of witnesses over an old dispute. Idris in his early 40s was the sole bread-winner for his family and left behind young kids — his family was not as well off as Khalil’s. Murderers must be punished. Khalil should pay for this crime by spending the rest of his life in jail.

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