Expressing serious concern over their prolonged imprisonment, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to release and repatriate within four weeks 61 Pakistani nationals languishing in jails in India despite having undergone their punishment for various offences.
The apex court said though India has a better track record of treating cases pertaining to foreign nationals than other countries, yet it needs to show some "urgency" in such cases as even the foreign nationals are entitled to the protection of Article 21(personal liberty).
The foreign nationals were arrested more than a decade ago on the charge of indulging in militant activities, border crossing, causing public breach and other offences. Though most of them have served their sentence, they continue to languish in jails without being released or repatriated, according to a PIL filed by Bhim Singh of J&K Panthers Party.
It was alleged that government was not taking adequate steps to provide them consular access to Pakistan High Commission for their deportation.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha asked Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanium to conduct verification of the claims and pass necessary orders for their repatriation.
The bench asked the government to bring in a suitable mechanism to ensure that such foreign nationals are not forced to remain in jails as courts are being frequently flooded with complaints about Pakistani nationals being incarcerated in jails despite having serving their sentence.