Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court Friday
directed the Union of India to approach the International Court of Justice within two months for the release of 54 1971 prisoners of war (POWs) languishing in Pakistani jails.
Observing that there was an alleged breach of Simla
Agreement by Pakistan, division bench of acting Chief Justice
Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala also directed
the Union of India to pay next to the kin of 54 POWs full
salary and retirement benefits within three months.
The court further directed that once the POWs are
released the next to kin would have to return the compensation
amount to them.
It also observed that by not approaching the ICJ, it was
inaction on the part of central government for not protecting
rights of citizens who protect country`s boundaries.
The petition was filed in 1999 by late Lt Gen Jagjit
Singh Arora who had sought direction from the court for the
Central government for release of POWs of 1971 war languishing
in Pakistan prisons.
Arora had prayed that the POWs be treated as soldiers
on duty and their families be given adequate compensation.
The Gujarat High Court in January 2010 had imposed a
fine of Rs 10,000, twice, on the Ministry of Defense for not
filing appropriate reply in the case for over 10 years despite
repeated notices from the court.
According to the Shimla Agreement, India has sent back
Pakistani POWs while the neighbouring country also sent 632
But in 1999, it was found that 54 POWs were still
languishing in Pakistani jails out of which two are from
Gujarat-- Kalyan Rathod from Sabarkantha and pilot N Shanker
Other Indian prisoners who came back from Pakistan jails
gave details of those who are still lodged there ,along with
their names and origin.
A Rajkot based lawyer M K Paul is spearheading the
campaign for the release of 54 POWs since 1998.