PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the interior ministry to make arrangements for the deportation of an Indian national, convicted by a military court of espionage, within one month of the completion of three-year prison term on Dec 15.
Justice Roohul Amin Khan Chamkani and Justice Qalandar Ali Khan observed that the government departments should have make arrangements for deportation of Hamid Nehal Ansari before the completion of his prison term as keeping him in detention after that date would tarnish the image of the country.
The bench fixed Jan 22 for the next hearing into a petition filed by senior advocate Qazi Mohammad Anwar on behalf of Mr Ansari complaining that the government had not made any arrangement for the release and deportation of his client as he was set to complete prison term.
Observes detaining espionage convict beyond prison term will tarnish country’s image
He said earlier, the high court had disposed of a writ petition of his client after the federal government had given assurance that he would be deported after the completion of prison term.
The bench sought a report regarding compliance with the court’s order before the next hearing.
The petitioner, who had gone missing in 2012 from Kohat district, was convicted by a field general court martial on the charges of espionage and anti-state activities on Dec 15, 2015, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
He denied the charges and claimed that he visited Pakistan to help a female Facebook friend in Kohat as she was in trouble.
Qazi Anwar said keeping the petitioner detained after the completion of prison term would amount to illegal detention.
A section officer of the interior ministry said the ministry was in contact with the relevant quarters, including the defence and foreign affairs ministries on the matter.
He said the travel documents of the petitioner would be made by the Indian high commission for which the interior ministry had requested the Foreign Office to take up the matter with the high commission.
The officer said under Section 14-C of the Foreigners Act, a foreigner convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in the country should not be released on the expiry of the sentence and should continue to remain in custody for a period not exceeding three months to finalise arrangement for his or her deportation.
The bench observed that the petitioner had approached the court on several occasions and his case was known to the federal government.
It added that it was the responsibility of the government to make arrangements for his deportation before completion of his sentence as his date of completion of prison term was known to all relevant departments.
The petitioner had gone missing after he was taken into custody by intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat district on Nov 14, 2012.
The high court was informed on Jan 13, 2016, that he was in the custody of the Pakistan Army and was being tried by a military court.
In Feb 2016, it surfaced that he was convicted by a military court and was sentenced to three years imprisonment and was shifted to the Peshawar central prison and subsequently to Mardan prison.
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2018