A couple from Singapore, forced to stay back in India after the Customs department challenged its acquittal in a narcotics case in the Supreme Court, has approached the apex court for permission to return home on medical grounds.
Zainab Bte Yousuf (55), who has undergone two surgeries for breast cancer, has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking that she and her husband, Tetsyo Hiryama, be allowed to return home so that they could undergo treatment for cancer.
Hiryama (63), a native of Japan settled in Singapore, was operated upon for prostrate cancer last week and is in hospital. Yousuf and Hiryama came to India in 2000. On November 27, 2000, when they were on their way back, the Customs intercepted them at the international airport alleging they were carrying 17 kg of charas.
The special court for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act convicted them to 10 years of rigourous imprisonment in 2006. The high court had reversed their conviction on January 30, 2009.
Yousuf was in custody for six years and 11 months while Hiryama served nearly eight years in custody.
Despite this, the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) did not grant them exit visas following a request from the Customs, which appealed against their acquittal in the Supreme Court.
The appeal is likely to come up for hearing after three years.
Yousuf’s counsel Ayaz Khan said: “They have literally served the 10 years’ sentence despite their acquittal. Then why doesn’t the government let them go? They have no means of livelihood here and it is difficult for Yousuf’s son to send money.”
Yousuf’s application says she is willing to give an undertaking that she will return when the appeal comes up for hearing. The Singapore government can track Yousuf down if she is not willing to come for the hearing, Saiyed said. Yousuf developed cancer when she was an undertrial. She took treatment only after she was released.