The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the central government why mentally unsound Pakistani nationals in India’s jails,who have served our their sentences,should not repatriated to their home country.
A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said such matters should be taken up on priority basis at the highest level when top authorities of the two nations meet.
The bench was referring to the case of 21 prisoners,16 of whom are mentally unsound and five deaf and dumb who are still in in jail.
“Should not such matters be taken up at the highest level when the heads of state meet?” the bench asked,indirectly referring to the recent visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to India.
The court asked the Centre to find out in three weeks what could be done to send thee prisoners back. The bench will hear the matter again on May 2.
“There is no doubt the best of facilities are being provided to such prisoners in the detention centre but the problem is why they are not being repatriated. What is the impediment? Such detention pains us,” the bench said.
“Top-most priority has to be given to these cases. They are mentally unsound and deaf and dumb. They have served out their sentences. They have been kept in jail because of some problem but that cannot be an indefinite exercise,” the bench said.
The Centre contended these people could not be sent back without proving their identification.
The bench said,”How can you do it even after six months or one year? The problem will continue. You must tell us what should be done.”
The court was hearing a PIL filed by J&K Panthers Party leader Prof Bhim Singh seeking its direction to the Centre for the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners in various jails across the country.
Singh submitted that photographs of these prisoners should be given by the Centre to the Pakistani government so that these could be published in newspapers there to prove identification.
The court,however,said there was no problem in directing the Centre to give these photographs but it cannot compel the Pakistani government to publish those pictures.
“The Centre cannot compel the Pakistan High Commission. Only suggestions can be given. The lead had to be taken up by the Pakistan High Commission,” the bench said.
It further said the prisoners cannot be sent without verifying their identification which could prove to be the worst situation for them.