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Sarabjit case: no presidential pardon says govt counsel

world Updated: Sep 21, 2011 00:58 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
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The case of detained Indian national Sarabjit Singh received a set back when the court refused to allow him a medical check up and permission to practice yoga, with the government's counsel informing that no mercy petition was being considerd for the prisoner by the president of Pakistan.

Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking medical checkup and treatment of Indian national Sarabjit Singh, presently on death row in Lahore. This petition was rejected because the local jail authorities had informed the court that Singh was physically fit.

The court also disposed of another petition challenging a possible presidential pardon to the spy and seeking his execution as soon as possible. Earlier, a report was submitted on behalf of Punjab home secretary rejected the arguments of counsel of Singh, Advocate Awais Sheikh, and maintained that the Indian prisoner was in good health and there was no need to get him medically examined at hospital outside jail.

The court also observed that the request of the petitioner to allow Yoga practice to his client in the jail was "not practical."

Advocate Sheikh submitted that jail authorities were not letting him have meeting with Sarbjit. He said he wanted to convey him message of his wife but this was not allowed. At this, an additional advocate general submitted that it was impossible to let the counsel hold frequent meetings for a "convict of an enemy country." Advocate Sheikh strongly objected at this statement and said that the prisoner was a prisoner "regardless of his nationality" and rules must be equal for every jail inmate. The court then directed the home department to arrange for meeting of Advocate Sheikh with Sarbjit.

In his petition, Sarabjit's lawyer had submitted that his client had developed heart disease due to long captivity. He said without proper sunshine and physical exercise, his client had been suffering from backache, high blood pressure, eating disorder, migraine, insomnia, and high cholesterol.

About the petition against a possible pardon for Singh, the federal government filed its report and stated that "no mercy petition on behalf of Sarabjit Singh was pending before President of Pakistan so there was no likelihood of the pardon." At this the court disposed of the petition being ineffective.

Advocate Sheikh later told the media that it went in his favour that any petition against Sarabjit is dismissed. "It is a moral victory too which will have psychological effects and will pave way for Sarabjit’s early release," he said, adding "But to set record straight, I may add that 4 mercy petitions have been submitted to the President of Pakistan." The fresh mercy petition was filed after the arrest of one Manjeet Singh, alleged to be the real culprit nominated in the case, Shaikh said.