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Visa hitch in judges’ Pak trip

New Delhi, Sept. 2: Retired judges from across the country had gathered in Delhi, on way to Pakistan. A news conference was called to announce the nine-day goodwill visit beginning tomorrow. But before it could start, news came that the visas had not been cleared yet.

The team has nine members — Godhra Commission chairman G.T. Nanavati, former Madhya Pradesh Lok Ayukta Faizuddin, Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission chairman A.P. Misra, former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice D.S. Tewatia, Delhi Lok Ayukta Mohammed Shamim, former Vice Chairman of CAT .P. Garg, former Allahabad High Court judge S.I. Jafri and Vice Chairman of the Bar Council of India Adish C. Aggarwal.

All the delegates, except Justice Nanavati, had arrived at the India International Centre to meet the media. While the others had taken their seats, Aggarwal was making frantic calls. The convener of the Indian Council of Jurists, organising the trip, was trying to reach the high commission and top brass in Islamabad.

As the judges got wind that all was not well, they left the room to join Aggarwal. Two were heard asking him what they should do now, since most had come from outside Delhi.

Aggarwal alone addressed the media. “There is some communication gap, the visa for the visiting delegation has not been cleared by the Pakistan High Commission,” he said, adding they had been invited by the Chief Justice of Pakistan and Pakistan Bar Council.

The deputy high commissioner called him on Friday to say the trip had been cleared and the visa papers should be submitted on Monday, he said. But at the high commission yesterday, the staff said they had no instructions. Agarwal tried talking to Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar, but nothing came of it. Agarwal said they would have to call off the trip if the visas did not come in time.

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