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For 5-yr sentence, Pak man served 10

The staggering pendency of cases is a testimony to the slow pace of Indian judiciary. In Delhi too, out of the 11,400 prisoners lodged in Tihar Jail, 80 per cent are undertrials.

delhi Updated: May 18, 2010 23:34 IST
Harish V Nair

The staggering pendency of cases is a testimony to the slow pace of Indian judiciary.

In Delhi too, out of the 11,400 prisoners lodged in Tihar Jail, 80 per cent are undertrials.

A number of them have already served more than three-fourth of the sentence already and some of them their entire jail term. But their appeals or bail applications are yet to be heard.

One such case of a victim of inordinate delay in completion of trial came to the fore in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday.

He is a Pakistani prisoner who had already spent 10 years in jail against his sentence of 5 years. He was pleading for his release.

Shahbaz finally got relief when Justice Sanjiv Khanna ordered Tihar jail authorities to immediately release and take steps for his deportation.

Shahbaz, from Sialkot in Pakistan, had been languishing in the jail ever since he was arrested under the Explosives Act in Hauz Khas in February 2000. Nine years later on March 2, 2009, a trial court sentenced him to five years' imprisonment.

Lodged in jail no. 4 of Tihar, he now works in the langar section of the prison and is in charge of serving food to co-prisoners.

He was not being released as he could not pay Rs 22,500 fine imposed along with the five-year sentence. For defaulting, he was to undergo an extra 21 months in prison. The High Court waived the fine, paving way for his freedom.

Legal aid lawyer Shimla Tomar, who appeared for Shahbaz, told the court, “Basic right to life and even the foundation of Indian justice system can be questioned through this example.”