HC slaps notice on Centre in 1971 PoWs case

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Centre over non-compliance of an earlier order directing it to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the release of 54 prisoners of war (PoWs) lodged in Pakistani jails since 1971.

Written by Press Trust Of India | Ahmedabad | Published: March 30, 2012 2:15 am

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Centre over non-compliance of an earlier order directing it to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the release of 54 prisoners of war (PoWs) lodged in Pakistani jails since 1971.

The notice was issued by the division bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala during a hearing on the petition filed by advocate K M Paul on behalf of the families of PoWs.

The court also asked the Ministry of Defence to file a reply in two weeks.

The petitioners alleged that the Centre did not comply with the high court order of December 23,2011 to approach the ICJ within two months to secure the release of 54 PoWs. The Centre had neither challenged the order in the Supreme Court nor had it sought more time to approach the ICJ.

The petitioners sought action against erring officers for not acting on the order.

On December 23,the HC had said there was an alleged breach of Shimla Agreement by Pakistan,and directed the Union of India to approach the international court.

The court had also directed the Centre to pay the relatives of the 54 PoWs full service and retirement benefits within three months.

The December order came on the petition filed by late Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Arora,a 1971 war hero,in 1999,seeking that Centre act to secure the release of the PoWs.

The high court,in 2010,had imposed a fine of Rs 10,000,twice on the Ministry of Defence for not filing appropriate reply in the case for over 10 years despite notices.

Though as per the Shimla Agreement both countries have sent back PoWs,it was found in 1999 that 54 Indian PoWs were still in Pakistani jails,including Kalyan Rathod from Sabarkantha and pilot N Shanker from Vadodara.

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