Stricter punishment for infiltrators, says SC

The Supreme Court said that there was a need to impose stricter punishment on those infiltrating into the country from neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. "Considering the large number of infiltrators who come to India without valid document, there is a need for imposing stricter sentence," a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P P Naolekar observed, while dismissing the appeal filed by a Pakistani infiltrator Habib Ibrahim. The bench rejected the plea of Ibrahim that he had illegally entered India to meet his wife and children in Jaipur and was ignorant of the country's immigration laws. "Appellant's (Ibrahim) feeble plea that he did not know that he is required to be in possession of valid document is without substance. Otherwise, he would not have obtained any transit visa for Nepal," the apex court observed. Ibrahim was arrested by the Rajasthan Police on 13th January, 2004 at Vidhadhar Nagar Bus Stop. He was found to be in possession of a Pakistani Passport and an expired Nepalese visa, but he did not have any documents (visa) to justify his presence in the country. A session’s court in Jaipur convicted Ibrahim under Sections 3 read with Section 14 of the Foreigners Act and sentenced him to five years imprisonment besides a fine of Rs 25,000. The Rajasthan High Court dismissed his plea and upheld the conviction and sentence following which he filed the appeal in the apex court. In his plea before the apex court, Ibrahim reiterated his claim of being innocent and also pleaded that a liberal view be taken in his case. But the state government opposed the stand contending that Ibrahim knowingly and wilfully came and stayed in India without any visa. Dismissing Ibrahim's plea, the apex court said, the prosecution's evidence clearly established that the accused did not have any visa to stay in India. "The appellant had been issued a transit visa that too for Nepal for a period of six months. There was no valid document in possession of the appellant to stay in India. The only plea to justify his presence was that he had come to visit his wife and children. That does not give any right to him to stay illegally in India," the apex court observed. As such the apex court felt there was nothing to justify a liberal view as pleaded by Ibrahim and accordingly dismissed his appeal.

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