New Delhi: Observing that they cannot be deprived of their "human rights" and "dignity," the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Union government to remand 37 alleged Pakistani prisoners and 11 fishermen in detention homes instead of prisons until their nationality was confirmed.
A bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale hoped that Pakistani High Commission will take early steps to identify and confirm the nationality of the prisoners, 21 of whom are said to mentally challenge.
Until their nationality is confirmed, the Union government should take steps to remand the 37 prisoners in detention homes at Delhi and Amritsar with all basic amenities, while the Gujarat government should take similar steps for the 11 fishermen in the state, the bench said in an order.
"We have no doubt that Pakistani High Commission will complete the exercise as early as possible. Whatever may be the reason for the delay, we have no doubt that their continuing imprisonment is unfortunate.
"In no way the 37 Pakistani prisoners can be treated as prisoners once they have served out their centres.
"It is true that until their nationality is confirmed, they cannot be repatriated and has to remain here. But during this period they cannot be deprived of their human rights and human dignity," said Justice Lodha, speaking for the bench.
Of the 37 Pakistani prisoners, 21 are said to be mentally challenged. Most of the 21 prisoners have completed their sentence in 2007-2009, but their nationality has not been confirmed by Pakistan, though consular access was provided to them by India a few months before completion of their
The apex court passed the order while dealing with a PIL filed by J&K Panthers Party leader Prof Bhim Singh challenging the prolonged incarceration of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails despite having completed their sentence.