November 19, 2008 7:05:48 pm
Sixtyseven jailed Pakistani nationals who were on the verge of being sent home by the Indian authorities may continue to remain behind bars as the Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed the Centre’s decision to deport them.
The 67 Pakistani nationals, lodged in Tihar jail, are facing charges of allegedly staying in India without valid passport or documents.
Issuing notice to the Central government, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S Muralidhar sought the government’s reply within two weeks and stayed their deportation till further order.
On Tuesday, the government moved an application before a city court seeking its permission to withdraw all cases registered against them under the Passport Act and Registration of Foreigners Act and to deport them to Pakistan.
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However, challenging the government’s decision, one of the Pakistani national filed a petition seeking court’s intervention restraining the government from deporting them.
Filing a PIL, through counsel Meenakshi Arora, one Saifullah Bajwa said all these people are facing cases of blasphemy and the existing Pakistani law prescribes the sentence of life or death penalty for the charge.
In April, 2007, these people had fled Pakistan due to fear of prosecution on the charges of blasphemy as they belonged to Mehdi Foundation, a multi-faith spiritual organisation that promoted the doctrine of divine love since 1980.
The organisation was headed by Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi, who had fled the country and is presently based in United Kingdom (UK) after Sindh High Court sentenced him to life imprisonment on charges of blasphemy.
After coming to India, they had staged a protest in New Delhi at Jantar Mantar against Pakistani government and burnt their passports besides burning the effigies of their leaders. The Delhi police had arrested them on April 23 2007 for not having valid documents to stay in India.
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