India’s Supreme Court admitted on Friday a special leave petition from Pakistani virologist Dr Khaleel Chishty – at present serving a sentence in India’s Ajmer jail – challenging an order of the Rajasthan High Court, which had upheld his conviction for murder.
The bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice J Chelameswar issued notice to the Rajasthan government, asking it to file a reply in a fortnight. The petition was filed by senior counsel U U Lalit on behalf of Dr Chishty.
Dr Chishty was convicted on January 31, 2011, after a trial which lasted more than 19 years, for the murder of Sayyed Idris Chishty on the premises of the shrine of famous Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer back in 1992.
Through this special leave petition, he is now trying to get the December 2011 order of the Rajasthan High Court revoked.
Now nearly 80 years old, Dr Chishty is suffering from serious ailments, including ischemic heart disease, left ventricular failure and a hip fracture.
His case, which caught the attention of rights campaigners across India last year, had led to an appeal for his clemency to the Rajasthan governor under the provisions of Article 72 and 161 of the Indian Constitution.
The governor has not acted on the petition though the state government had cleared it in May 2011.
Kavita Srivastava, general secretary of the Rajasthan People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), who spearheaded the campaign for Dr Chishty’s release along with veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, pointed out that the deadline for the appeal on the high court judgment was March 20.
Dr Chishty’s condition remains precarious in the Ajmer jail hospital though he was once brought to the Jaipur jail in January this year when a committee of parliamentarians from India and Pakistan visited it, she noted.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.
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