India approaches IHC for spies’ release on jail terms completion

Updated 16 Oct 2020

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The petition sought release of Birju Dung Dung alias Birchu, Vigyan Kumar Ghnshyam Kumar and Satish Bhog confined in Central Jail, Lahore, and Sonu Singh confined in Central Jail, Karachi. — AFP/File
The petition sought release of Birju Dung Dung alias Birchu, Vigyan Kumar Ghnshyam Kumar and Satish Bhog confined in Central Jail, Lahore, and Sonu Singh confined in Central Jail, Karachi. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Indian High Commission on Thurs­day filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking release of those Indian citizens who had been convicted by Pakistan’s military courts of spying and had since completed their respective prison terms.

Aparna Ray of the Indian High Commission filed the petition in the IHC through advocate Malik Shahnawz Noon.

The petition sought release of Birju Dung Dung alias Birchu, Vigyan Kumar Ghnshyam Kumar and Satish Bhog confined in Central Jail, Lahore, and Sonu Singh confined in Central Jail, Karachi. It said all the four convicts had completed their respective jail sentences.

As per details, Dung completed his sentence on April 29, 2007, Kumar on June 19, 2014, Bhog on May 6, 2015, and Singh on March 03, 2012.

The petition said these prisoners “have served out their respective sentences awarded to them by the military courts i.e. Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in Pakistan”.

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According to the petition, “the condemned prisoners were arrested by Pakistan military authorities and were charged under section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act, 1954, and provisions of Official Secret Act, 1923. The petitioners say they have not committed any offences”.

The petition further said that these “prisoners have completed their respective sentences and the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, mandates in unequivocal terms that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty in accordance with the law. This provision is quite similar to Article 21 of the Constitution of India which deals with protection of life and liberty”.

The petition said that any person belonging to any country tried by Pakistani authorities expected that this glorious protection of law to their life and liberty would be extended to them as a matter of right and dignity. The petition further said that Article 10(A) of the Pakistani Constitution ensured a fair trial of all and Article 4 enjoined that “every other person for the time being within Pakistan under the protection of law, rights of such individual to be dealt with in accordance with law”.

The petition alleged that in spite of these constitutional provisions, the authorities unfortunately have deprived these condemned prisoners of their legitimate rights.

The petition said that Ms Ray sent a number of note verbales to the secretary of foreign affairs for the release and repatriation of these prisoners as they had completed their sentences, but to no avail.

“For the sake of humanity and common morals the petitioners have requested the respondent no. 2 [secretary of foreign affairs] that ex-convicts are entitled to be released from the jails but all genuine and reasonable objections raised by the petitioner no. 5 [Ms Ray] in this regard were overruled,” it added.

The petition claimed that the detention of condemned prisoners for the time being was illegal.

It requested the court to issue directives for the government authorities to release these prisoners and repatriate them to their homeland i.e. India, in the interest of justice.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the IHC will hear the petition on Friday.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2020