PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench disposed of the petition of an Indian national seeking remission in his three years prison term awarded by a military court, after the federal government promised to deport him after the completion of prison term in Dec.

Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim declined to allow any remission to the petitioner, Hamid Nehal Ansari, observing that he was convicted by a court martial for espionage and anti-state activities and therefore, he was not entitled to remission in the prison term.

A deputy attorney general recorded his statement on behalf of the interior ministry and said the prison term of the petitioner would complete on Dec 15, 2018, and thereafter, he would be handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah border.

Govt assures court Ansari will be deported in Dec

Earlier this year, the defence ministry had filed comments and informed the court that the petitioner was convicted by a field general court martial on the charges of espionage and involvement in anti-state activities on Dec 15, 2015, and was not entitled to remission in three-year prison term.

The ministry had requested the court to dismiss his petition saying it is not maintainable.

The DAG also contended that under Article 199 of the Constitution, the high court had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition as the petitioner was convicted under the Pakistan Army Act.

The petitioner kept at Mardan Central Prison had challenged the mention of the words ‘anti-state activities’ on his jail warrants and said he was neither involved in any anti state activities nor was he convicted by the military court for that offence.

He had also prayed the court to direct the authorities of Mardan prison to allow ‘due’ remission to him from Dec 15, 2015, when he was convicted, and work out his date of release thereafter.

Qazi Mohammad Anwar, lawyer for the petitioner, disputed the government’s claim that his client was involved in anti-state activities. He said his client, who was taken into custody in 2012, was neither an Indian agent nor was he connected with any anti-Pakistan group.

The lawyer said his client had committed a mistake by crossing the border into Pakistan without valid documents and that he had a fake identity card.

He said at the most, the petitioner could be convicted under the Passport Act or for preparing forged documents.

The petitioner had gone missing after he was taken into custody by intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat district in Nov 2012.

During a hearing into a petition of his mother, Fauzia Ansari, the high court was informed on Jan 13, 2016, that Ansari was in the custody of the Pakistan Army and was being tried by a military court.

In Feb 2016, it surfaced that the petitioner was convicted by a military court and was sentenced to three years imprisonment and was shifted first to the Peshawar central prison and then to Mardan jail.

The petitioner, a teacher at the Mumbai Management College, had entered Pakistan on Nov 12, 2012, with a fake identity card sent to him by his Facebook friends from Karak and stayed with them in their area for two days. He was taken into custody from a Kohat hotel two days later.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2018