Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the central government had sought from the Rajasthan government details on Khaleel Chishty, an 80-year-old Pakistani doctor undergoing life imprisonment in a jail in Ajmer for murder.
Intervening during question hour in Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister said the home ministry had been instructed to seek details from the Rajasthan government on the case of the virologist from Karachi Medical College.
Chishty's mercy petition, which was cleared by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, was sent to acting Governor Shivraj Patil, who sought more details in the case.
Earlier, external affairs minister SM Krishna said in reply to a question that authorities from both sides met regularly to discuss the issue of their nationals in each other's jails.
Krishna informed the house that the "high commissioners of India and Pakistan meet twice every year to discuss the issue of prisoners".
The minister also said that presently 558 Indian prisoners are in Pakistan's jails, of which 232 are non-military people, 252 are fishermen while 74 are Indian army officers reported missing. He, however, added that the figures from the Pakistan government differed from those of India.
Question hour proceeded without interruption Thursday, after three days of adjournments following opposition protests over various issues.
Chishty was awarded life imprisonment in January this year. He and some others had been accused of killing a man, identified as Irshid, in a fight in April 1992. Chishty was on a visit to Ajmer for offering prayers at the world famous Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty when the killing occurred.
After the 18-year trial and conviction in a murder case, he moved the Rajasthan High Court against the lower court’s verdict, but his bail application was turned down.
Justice Markandeya Katju of the Supreme Court recently requested the prime minister to release the Pakistani prisoner on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
Acting on Justice Katju’s appeal, Gehlot approved the mercy plea of Chishty and sent it to the governor for final clearance.