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Order to deport Pak prisoners

New Delhi, Aug. 21: The Supreme Court today said the Centre must grant some Pakistani prisoners their prayer for deportation as they have served their sentence and were not being detained under any law or statutory order.

After examining the case of each prisoner, a division bench of Justices Ruma Pal and P.V. Reddi observed that if proper orders were not passed by September 2, the court would be constrained to direct their release.

The order came in a case pertaining to 14 Pakistani prisoners who have been detained in jails in Rajasthan.

These 14 prisoners have already served their term but continue to be incarcerated. Of them, five have been classified as “security prisoners” and the judges made it clear that the court would not interfere in these five cases.

The judges directed the Centre to submit a chart detailing the status of each of the remaining nine prisoners, and said those who have served out their sentence and “not detained under any statutory order”, are “entitled to be released”. “They have sought deportation. Their prayer must be granted,” the judges said while fixing the next hearing on September 2.

Appearing for the Union government, attorney-general Soli J. Sorabjee conceded that some of the nine prisoners lodged in jails in Rajasthan have not been detained under any order but expressed difficulty in releasing them immediately as the Pakistan government did not respond to earlier requests from India.

The bench then gave the government time till September 2 for passing “appropriate orders” under the Foreigners Act “after applying its mind to each case separately”.

Earlier, amicus curiae (friend of the court) K. Parasaran had said the government had no business keeping the Pakistani nationals in prison after they had served their term.

The advocate suggested that the government could keep these persons in a separate camp or shelter after they had served their sentence till India and Pakistan reach an understanding.

But the bench said there was “no question of detaining any persons without any order” after he has served his sentence.

In a parallel proceeding, a bench of Justices M.B. Shah and A.R. Lakshmanan has issued notice to the attorney-general seeking his assistance in a matter pertaining to the prolonged detention of 11 Pakistani prisoners.

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