Working for cross-border prisoners

Working for cross-border prisoners
Acting President Pakistan SCBA Naeem Sarwar presents a shield to Prof. Bhim Singh (second from left) in Lahore

The Supreme Court Bar Associations in India and Pakistan have agreed to help prisoners detained in each other’s countries

In a welcome move, the Supreme Court Bar Associations of India and Pakistan are working together to help Pakistani and Indian prisoners detained in each other’s countries, following the visit to Pakistan of SCBA India’s senior executive member Prof.Bhim Singh at the invitation of the Lawyers Congress headed by Zulfiqar Ali Jehangir.

The Executive Committee of SCBA India on June 28 sent a letter thanking SCBA Pakistan for facilitating and honouring Prof. Bhim Singh during his ten-day visit to Pakistan in May.

In Lahore, the Supreme Court Bar Association (Pakistan) presented Prof. Singh, has over the past 15 years provided free legal aid to hundreds of Pakistanis detained or under trial in Indian jails, with a shield. This is the first time an Indian lawyer was so honoured in Pakistan.

Creoos-border-prisonersAs a result of petitions filed by Prof Bhim Singh’s State Legal Aid Committee, the Supreme Court of India has over the years intervened to free nearly nearly 250 Pakistani prisoners.

During his visit, the Islamabad Bar Association invited Prof. Bhim Singh to speak on the plight of cross-border prisoners in India and Pakistan. Several civil society organisations and representatives of the District Bar Associations of Mirpur, Kotli and Muzaffarabad drove to visit Prof Singh, who did not have permission to visit other cities in Pakistan.

Pakistani lawyers said they would take up the cases of the Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails at their own expense. PPP Senator Jehangir Badar has also pledged to work on this initiative.

Several public interest petitions are pending in the Supreme Court of India seeking the release and repatriation of the Pakistani prisoners. They include 30 who are mentally or physically challenged, and remain incarcerated despite the Indian Supreme Court’s directives to release all foreign prisoners who have completed their respective sentences or are not wanted in any case.


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