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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge, Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, on Friday, referred the release of four Indian spies convicted by military courts on charges of espionage and terrorism in Pakistan, to the chief justice.

A single bench of Justice Kayani heard the petition of Indian High Commission filed through Barrister Malik Shah Nawaz Noon, and cited Federation of Pakistan through secretary Interior and secretary Foreign Affairs as respondents.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Kayani remarked that the cases of similar nature are pending before the IHC chief justice; therefore, he sent the matter to Justice Athar Minallah for further proceedings.

The petition requested the court to release the Indian prisoners including Birchu, Bang Kumar, Satish Bhag, and Sonu Singh as they have served their sentence.

The petition stated that the condemned prisoners were arrested by Pakistani military authorities and were charged under Section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act, 1954, and provisions of Official Secret Act, 1923.

It added, "It is the case of petitioners that they have not committed any offence and the entire proceedings initiated from the arrest till culmination in the ultimate conviction are an abuse of process of law but for the purpose of instant writ petition it would be a futile exercise to indulge into the legality of conviction and sentence as by now the condemned prisoners have already exhausted their respective period of sentences awarded by the FGCM."

According to the petition, any person belonging to any country tried by the Pakistani authorities except that this glorious protection of law to their life and liberty would be extended to them as a matter of right and dignity.

It added that the insertion of Article 10(A) in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan by way of 18th Amendment has brought the Pakistani Constitution to magnanimous heights of individual's rights and liberties.

The petitioner's counsel contended, "The detention of condemned prisoners for the time being at the hands of respondents is nothing but illegal, unjustified and against the law and dictums of superior courts of the country."

It argued that now no reason of legal grounds exists under which the ex-convicts could be kept behind the bars hence, the ex-convicts should be released and repatriated back to their country enabling them to meet their families.

Therefore, the counsel prayed before the court that it may direct the respondents to arrange the release of the ex-condemned prisoners from the concerned jails and repatriate them to India in the interest of justice, fair play and equity as the said prisoners have already completed their imprisonment awarded to them and there is no lawful reason to keep them behind the bars.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020