New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked
the Centre not to deport 65 Pakistani nationals, languishing
in Tihar jail for staying in India without valid documents,
till the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)
takes a decision about their refugee status.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice
Sanjiv Khanna granted six weeks time sought by a Pakistani
national Saifulla Bajwa seeking extension of time on the
ground that the UNHCR has completed their interviews and a
final report about their status is yet to come.
On December 2, the High Court had directed the
petitioners to approach the UNHCR and the Indian government
was asked not to deport them to Pakistan till February 10,
The Pakistani nationals belonging to Gowhar Shahi sect,
banned by Pakistan government, have been under detention in
Tihar Jail since April 23, 2007, after they staged a
demonstration demanding asylum in India on the ground that
their life was at risk in Pakistan.
Refusing to return to their homeland, they had during
their protests burnt the Pakistani flag, their passports and
visa papers. They were subsequently arrested for having no
travel documents and, therefore, being in India illegally.
Meanwhile, the Centre had taken a decision to deport them
as they have been staying here without any valid documents.
In 2008, they had moved the Delhi High Court pleading
that Indian authorities be restrained from deporting them back
and they be granted refugee status.
Hearing their plea, the Court had asked the government
to obtain clarification from the UNHCR on the process of
The representatives from the UNHCR had recently visited
the Tihar jail to decide the case of 65 Pakistani prisoners
belonging to a Muslim sect, banned in that country, who have
sought asylum in India.