The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the expeditious trial of 36 Pakistani militants lodged in various prisons across the country but facing prosecution mostly in Jammu and Kashmir on charges of heinous crimes, including terrorist activities.
While setting a nine-month deadline for the completion of their trial, a bench of Justice BN Agrawal and Justice PP Naolekar also ordered the government to shift those Pakistani prisoners lodged in jails outside Jammu and Kashmir to jails within the state in a month.
At least 16 of the Pakistani prisoners are lodged in various high-security prisons outside the state, including Tihar in Delhi, Jodhpur in Rajasthana, Sangroor in Punjab, Naini and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. This has been done because of their high security risk.
Most of these Pakistani prisoners have been charged with terrorism, murders and various offences under the Explosive Act.
The bench's direction came during the hearing of a petition of Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party president Bhim Singh, who alleged that as many as 52 Pakistani persons were detained in various jails - some without trial and others for periods exceeding possible sentences for the offences they had been charged with.
Earlier on Sep 28, the bench ordered deportation of 13 Pakistani militants who were languishing in various jails across the country beyond the period of their respective sentences.
While examining the cases of Pakistani nationals detained in Indian jails, the bench on last hearing asked the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary to recommend to the central government deportation of nine Pakistani prisoners by Oct 10 and that of four more by Oct 31.
The Jammu and Kashmir government told the court it had already written to the central government, recommending deportation of the nine Pakistani prisoners who had already undergone their sentences.
But the central government denied it had received any recommendation from the state. Furious at the state government for showing apathy to the plight of prisoners, the bench asked it to recommend again to the central government for their deportation so that the state's recommendation reaches Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta by Oct 10.
The bench also asked the state government to recommend the case of deportation for four other prisoners, who had already completed their sentenmces, by Oct 31.