Supreme Court allows jailed Pak scientist Chishti to visit Pakistan temporarily
New Delhi, May 10 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed jailed microbiologist Mohammed Khalil Chishti to visit Pakistan temporarily, but asked him to report back to it by November 1 this year.
Dr. Chishti, 82, said that he was relieved and happy with the apex court order, and was looking forwarding to going home. He said that he was thankful to the Indian judicial system for releasing him, and urged the Pakistan Government to release jailed Indians as well.
The Supreme Court, however, has asked Dr. Chishti to deposit a surety sum of Rs.5 lakh with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
On Monday, the Supreme Court had indicated that it may allow 82-year-old Chishti, awarded life term in a 20-year-old murder case, to visit his country temporarily.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and J Chelameswar asked 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 Dr Chishti, pending disposal of his appeal against his conviction.
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.
Parasaran maintained that the appeal can be expeditiously taken up but Chishti should not be allowed to go to Pakistan and instead be allowed treatment in Delhi.
The ASG pointed that there is no bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan on ensuring the return of any convict who is enlarged on bail.
However, the bench was not convinced with the arguments and said, "Let him go and come back. Some times we have to be optimistic".
Earlier senior counsel U U Lalit pleaded that Chishti be granted permission to visit Pakistan as a special case since he was suffering from various geriatric problems and was confined to Ajmer for the past 20 years and had served one-and-a-half year of his sentence.
He submitted that the court may impose any condition on Chishti for securing his return at the time of the hearing of his appeal, scheduled during October.
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.
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