Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry has ordered the home secretary to provide a list of all foreigner prisoners still in jail in the province despite completing their terms.
The chief justice also asked the Foreign Ministry to inform the court at the next hearing on November 2 of efforts they have made to ensure the timely release of foreign prisoners.
The court was hearing a petition from two Indian prisoners, Satinder Paul Singh and Kerale Bhanudas, who have challenged their continued confinement in Kot Lakhpat Jail even though their terms have finished.
Their lawyer Awais Sheikh submitted that the two were not being released on the pretext that proof of their identification was needed. But in fact, he said, “some government officials are deliberately delaying their release for reasons best known to them”. He added that such incidents could hurt relations between India and Pakistan.
The chief justice remarked that Indian officials needed to face similar questions about Pakistani prisoners.
Pakistan recently agreed to release a convicted Indian spy, Gopal Das, on the request of a former Indian Supreme Court judge. However, the Indian government did not reciprocate when the same judge asked them to release elderly Pakistani prisoner Dr Khalil Chishty.
Sheikh, who also represents Indian prisoner Sarabjeet Singh, submitted in the petition that he had met the Kot Lakhpat jail superintendent and he had confirmed that his clients’ prison terms were over, but proof of their identity was required for release.
Sheikh said that he had submitted his clients’ identification documents to the foreign affairs secretary at the Indian High Commission, who then forwarded the papers to the Foreign Office.
Over a month later, he said, the Foreign Office had still not provided the requisite confirmation to the jail superintendent.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2011.
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