Numerical error?: SHC irked by authorities’ failure in filing replies

Comments sought on actual number of Pakistanis missing from Indian jails

Our Correspondent September 30, 2016

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) expressed displeasure on Thursday over failure of the federal authorities in filing comments regarding the actual number of Pakistani prisoners who have reportedly gone missing from Indian jails.

Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who headed the two-judge bench, granted the deputy attorney-general time till October 13 to file comments of the interior ministry.

The two nuclear-armed neighbours have a strict visa regime for each other's citizens and have been detaining people for inadvertently crossing over, especially fishermen.

Ansar Burney Trust International, which had approached the court last month, said that the Pakistan and Indian governments had, on May 31, 2008, signed a bilateral agreement on consular access. Under the treaty, both the countries exchange a detailed list of prisoners lodged in each other's prisons twice a year - on January 1 and July 1.

The petitioner said that in continuation of the agreement, both the countries exchanged their respective lists on January 1, 2016. "It has transpired that a major difference in the Indian list has been found as the Pakistani list states that 460 prisoners are lodged in Indian jails while the Indian list confirms only 271 such prisoners, meaning that about 189 Pakistanis are missing," states the petition.

The petition was filed on January 13 this year. Over the last eight months, the court had been issuing notices to the relevant federal authorities to file their comments regarding the matter.

On September 7, the court had once again sought comments.During Thursday's proceedings, the deputy attorney-general requested for more time to file comments. This irked the bench members, who took exception to the authorities' conduct towards compliance of the court's directives.

Allowing the request, the bench granted time till October 13 to do the needful.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.


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