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HC seeks Govt stand on Sarabjeet, others languishing in Pak

The alleged apathy of the government towards its citizens languishing in Pakistani jails on charges of spying was raised in the Delhi High Court, which sought the Centre's response on the steps taken for the release of 13 such persons, including Sarabjeet Singh.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2009 12:07 IST
PTI
Hindustantimes

The alleged apathy of the government towards its citizens languishing in Pakistani jails on charges of spying was raised in the Delhi High Court, which sought the Centre's response on the steps taken for the release of 13 such persons, including Sarabjeet Singh.

The petition filed by a Human Rights activist claimed these persons convicted on charges of espionage have been in jail for a long time and some of them have even spent 25 years but the government has "neglected" them and not taken steps for their release.

"It is a serious state of affairs on the part of the government that they are not taking keen interest to care about the life and liberty of those prisoners, who are in Pakistani jails," advocate Kishore Paul alleged while appearing for Gujarat-based activist Madangopal Khushiram.

Justice S Ravindra Bhat, after hearing the contention, issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs and posted the matter for further hearing on April 13.

The court also sought a response from National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which had earlier asked government to take steps for early release of the prisoners.

Government has never accepted that those languishing in Pakistani jails worked for any intelligence agency.

The activist submitted a list of 16 prisoners, out of which three persons, including a convict, who was sentenced to death, has been released after languishing in jail for 35 years.

Kashmir Singh was released last March after his case was taken up by the then caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights Ansar Burney.

Two other persons Chanan Singh and Parvez Ahmed were released after languishing in jail for 20 and 15 years.

Burney is fighting for the commutation of Sarabjeet Singh's death sentence to life imprisonment.

The petition alleged the government was not seriously taking up the issue of the prisoners' release and has also ignored the hardships and agony of their family members back home.

"All government departments are taking things very lightly and they are not considering the seriousness of the matter or the hardships and agony of the family members," it said.