Pak court seeks info on status of Indian prisoner
Last Updated: Friday, December 02, 2011, 13:15
Lahore: A Pakistani court has asked authorities to inform it about the current status of an Indian prisoner being held in a jail in Lahore even though he completed his sentence last year.

The Lahore High Court yesterday directed the Foreign Secretary to inform it of the status of Surjeet Singh, who was convicted for spying in 1985 and initially sentenced to death under the Pakistan Army Act.

Subsequently, Singh's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1988.

After going through the Lahore Central Jail superintendent's report on Singh, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik directed the Foreign Secretary to submit a report on the prisoner by December 20.

The jail superintendent submitted a written reply to the court in response to a petition seeking Singh's release and the inclusion of his name in a list of foreign prisoners languishing in Pakistani jails despite having completed their terms.

The superintendent said Singh's jail term had ended on October 30, 2010.

Following this, the superintendent wrote four letters to the Inspectorate of Prisons and the Home Department between November 2010 and March, seeking instructions on what to do with Singh.

The superintendent said Singh had been in the Central Jail since October 31, 1985.

The army's General Headquarters rejected his mercy petition but forwarded it to the President on December 24, 1985.

The then President, Zia-ul-Haq, did not make a decision on the petition.

However, on December 8, 1988, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan announced a general amnesty for all death row prisoners. Subsequently, Singh's death sentence was converted to life imprisonment, with the term set to end on October 30, 2010.

Lawyer Awais Sheikh filed the petition on behalf of Singh.

He asked the court to direct the Foreign Ministry and the prison superintendent to include Singh?s name in the list of foreign prisoners awaiting release after completing their terms.

The Inspector General of Prisons of Punjab province had last month issued a list of 74 foreign prisoners, including 32 Indians, who were being held in Pakistani jails despite having completed their sentences.

The Inspector General contended that the countries to which these prisoners belonged and Pakistan's Foreign Office were responsible for their prolonged detention.

The High Court had then directed the Foreign Office and other Pakistani authorities to expedite their release.


First Published: Friday, December 02, 2011, 13:15

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