Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court has asked authorities to submit a report on the detention of hundreds of Indian fishermen in the country`s jails even after they had completed their sentences.
A three-judge bench directed the Interior and Foreign Ministries and the government of Sindh province to submit a concise statement by August 26 on the detention of the Indian fishermen.
The court directed the Attorney General to depute his officer to assist the court at the next date of hearing. The bench issued the direction yesterday after hearing a batch of petitions filed by the Pakistani Fisher Folk Forum,
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, five detainees and four under-trial prisoners seeking the release of the Indian fishermen.
The petitioners` counsel, Iqbal Haider, said there are 582 Indian fishermen being held in four jails of Sindh - Malir District Jail in Karachi, Nara Jail in Hyderabad and district jails in Badin and Naushero Feroze.
The Indians are waiting to be deported home as prisoner exchanges between Islamabad and New Delhi had virtually come to a halt after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The apex court asked the authorities to disclose the facts and provisions of law under which the fishermen were being detained.
Haider informed the court that the Indian Supreme Court had on March 10 directed the government to immediately release Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails.
He further said some of the Indian fishermen have been languishing in Pakistani prisons for over three years despite having completed a one-year jail term given to them for violating the Foreigners` Act by illegally entering Pakistani waters.
Sindh`s home department had kept them in jail under a detention order without lawful authority and this was a violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the Constitution, Haider said.
India and Pakistan arrest dozens of fishermen every year on charges of violating the maritime boundary.
Many of the fishermen, including teenagers, have languished in jail for several years despite having completed their sentences.