Indian Supreme Court seeks status report
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi, comprising Justice Mr. P. Sathasivam and Justice Mr. J. Chelameswar on April 27, 2012, expressed unhappiness at the delay by the Union of India to file a reply to the petition filed on behalf of four war prisoners from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), believed to be held in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since 1965.
According to a press release, the State Legal Aid Committee had filed a petition for the release of four AJK residents who were, according to the affidavits of their relatives, detained in J&K in 1965 when Pakistan parachuted them in the Poonch sector.
Senior Advocate Prof. Bhim Singh who appeared for the petitioners submitted that the Deputy Inspector General, Prisons Department had admitted that four persons were arrested and detained in District Jail Jammu: Alam Sher, s/o Bagga arrested on 6.9.1965, Brakat Hussain, s/o Said Muhammad arrested on 6.9.1965, Sakhi Muhammad, s/o Lal Din arrested on 6.9.1965 and Abdul Aziz, s/o Dost Muhammad arrested in 1967.
He said that the Govt. of J&K is trying to hide the truth from the court for ulterior reasons and it is essential that entire record on the detention of these said four war prisoners is called. He urged the court to seek a status report from the Union of India as well as Govt. of J&K because the prisoners are also detained by J&K in Interrogation Centres based in Jammu as well as in Srinagar, which do not form the part of Jail Department. He informed the court that he himself remained detained illegally in the Interrogation Centre and this court had awarded him Rs.50,000/- compensation for his wrongful detention. Prof. Bhim Singh expressed shock that the Govt. of J&K has detained these persons for over 40 years and is now trying to play hide and seek with the Apex Court under the excuse that the said persons ‘are not in J&K prisons at present, or now”.
Senior Advocate S.P. Singh who appeared for the Union of India assured the court that he would submit a status report on the whereabouts of the petitioners. Prof. Bhim Singh expressed shock that the legal rights enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India have been abused by the Govt. of J&K in respect of four petitioners knowing well that the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 under the Indian Constitution is available to every and any person irrespective of his nationality and is not subjected to be negotiated. After hearing both the sides the court directed for the production of the relevant records and observed that this matter is very serious and deserves a serious attention of the governments concerned. The court fixed the next date of hearing on July 9, 2012 the first day of the opening of the court after summer vacation.
Freed but not released
Indian prisoner Karale Bhanudas in Central Jail, Lahore, has yet to be released despite having completed his sentence six months ago.
The Lahore High Court had ordered his immediate release along with 74 other foreign prisoners including 33 Indians. Bhanudas’ release has been delayed in the name of procedure. With the order yet to be implemented, he is still languishing in jail. Advocate Awais Sheikh, who met him in prison on April 16, 2012, reports:
“He was surprised to know that someone has come to meet him. For him it was all unexpected. Two armed policemen brought him to the office window of Deputy Superintendent Jail. I wanted to embrace him and to shake hands with him but I could not. I was inside the window, which was covered with steel curtain. He looked like a poor man with dark eyes, wearing shirt, pyjama. He was overjoyed when I told him that I was his lawyer and have come to meet him.
” ‘Here is a good news for you, Karale,’ I said. He impatiently looked towards me. ‘Jee sahib,’ he joined his hands together in the tradition of Indians and smiled.
“I could see hope in his eyes. ‘I have won your case. You will be freed, the Court has issued orders for your release,’ I told him.
“I conveyed messages of his wife and cousin, and delivered his wife’s letter. I read it out for him. It would reach him through the jail authorities.
‘Aap ka sukria (Thank you),’ he said.
“I gave him my visiting card and asked him to write a letter which I will deliver to his family.
“We talked for about half an hour. He told me that I was the only person who met him in jail during the four years of his imprisonment. ‘When will I be freed?’ he asked.
“‘Very soon, dear Karale. All Indians’ eyes are on your freedom,’ I said.
“‘Good Babu ji,’ he smiled.
“While going back to the barracks, he turned his face towards me and said, ‘Parmatma aap ki khair kare.’
“I gave him some fresh fruit and promised to meet again.”