New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed ailing Pakistani microbiologist Mohammed Khalil Chishti , awarded life term in a 20-year-old murder case, to visit his country on humanitarian grounds.
However, the apex court put certain conditions, while allowing the 82-year-old Pakistani microbiologist to reunite with his family. The apex court directed him to deposit Rs five lakhs in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and surrender his passport at the Indian Consulate in Karachi.
The Supreme Court also asked him to return to India on or before November 1 this year.
Speaking to reporters minutes after the order was pronounced, Chisti said, “I am very happy and relieved by the Supreme Court’s decision.”
“I am highly thankful to the Indian judicial system and will request the authorities in Pakistan to release Indians perishing in jails there," he stated.
The apex court order was passed in response to a petition moved by Chisti seeking permission to visit his home country.
During the last hearing, the apex court bench of Justices P Sathasivam and J Chelameswar had indicated that it might consider the 82-year-old Pakistani microbiologist’s plea and may allow him to visit his home country.
The two-member bench also directed Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran to seek necessary instructions from the Union Ministries of the Home Affairs and the External Affairs about the conditions that could be imposed on Chishti before allowing him to leave for Pakistan.
The bench gave the directions amid the Centre's objection that if allowed to go to Pakistan temporarily, Chishti may not return to India at all. He is presently out on bail, but has been asked to confine himself to Ajmer only.
"Merely because he is a Pakistani, can we treat him differently? We can understand if you say he has links with some terrorist organisation," Justice Sathasivam heading the bench observed and posted the matter for further hearing to Thursday.
The apex court said it would like to consider Chishti's plea in view of the special circumstances of his case.
The bench said Chishti was an eminent scientist of global repute and is 82-year-old with no previous criminal record and the issues involved are the bilateral relations between the two countries.
"He (Chishti) has pointed out that he has not been able to meet even his children and grand children, who have grown up," the bench observed and also said it would like to take up the scientist's appeal for hearing and expeditious disposal during October and November.
Earlier on May 4, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear Chishti's plea to visit his country and had sought Centre's response to it.
Chishti had been granted bail by the apex court on April 9. Held guilty in a 20-year-old murder case, he had been serving life term in a Rajasthan's Ajmer jail.
The apex court had granted bail to Chishti on humanitarian grounds, considering his old age and the fact that he has been in India since 1992 after a murder case was lodged against him when he came to visit Ajmer to see his ailing mother.
Chishti had come to see his mother in 1992 when he got embroiled in a brawl, and, in the ensuing melee, one of his neighbours was shot dead while his nephew got injured.
Born in Ajmer to a prosperous family of caretakers of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti shrine, Chishti was studying in Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947 and chose to stay there.
First Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012, 09:34