President Asif Ali Zardari with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. – File Photo by AFP

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday remitted the remaining jail sentence of Indian convict Gopal Das detained in jail for the past 27 years on humanitarian grounds, reports said.

Spokesperson to the President, Farhatullah Babar, said that the remission was granted on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to honour the appeal of the Supreme Court of India to the government of Pakistan.

He said several Indian newspapers had recently reported that in an unusual step the Supreme Court of India had appealed to the Pakistani government to consider granting remission to Gopal Das on humanitarian grounds and to release him. Nearly two weeks ago, the Indian Supreme Court made the appeal while disposing of a writ petition filed by Gopal Das through his brother.

The bench comprising of Justice Markandey and Justice Gyan Sudha observed: “We cannot give any direction to Pakistani authorities because we have no jurisdiction over them. The Indian authorities have done all that they could in the matter. However, that does not prevent us from making a request to the Pakistani authorities to consider the appeal of the petitioner for releasing him on humanitarian grounds by remitting the remaining path of his sentence.”

Justice Markandey had also quoted a couplet by Faiz: “Qafas uddas hai yaaro sabaa se kuch to kaho, Kaheen to beher-i-khuda aaj zikr-i-yaar chale”

Farhatullah Babar said according to official record, the convicted prisoner Gopal Das s/o Behari Lal was sentenced to life imprisonment in June, 1987 and was set to be released by the end of this year under the law.

Babar said acting on the advice of Prime Minister Gilani, based on the appeal of the Supreme Court of India, the President today remitted the remaining jail term of Gopal Das.

Farhatullah Babar said President Zardari signed the remission advice in the early hours of Sunday soon after the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was accepted and it was decided that Prime Minister Gilani will proceed to Mohali to witness the semi-final cricket match between the teams of the two countries.

It may be mentioned that the Interior Secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet on Monday — first in the series of meetings taking place under the umbrella of a revived full spectrum dialogue between the two countries.