New Delhi, July 16: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre's response to Gopal Dass's plea seeking to be compensated for the 27 years he spent in a Pakistani prison on the charge of being an Indian spy.
A bench of Justices Markandey Katju and C K Prasad asked senior advocate Ashok Bhan to seek instructions within four weeks from the Union government on the plea of Dass, who alleged that the government had dumped him.
Initially the bench was reluctant to entertain the petition and said: "There are hundreds of people like you wrongly lodged in Pakistani jails. You can sue the Pakistan government."
Petitioner's counsel Arvind Kumar Sharma said the petitioner sacrificed 27 years of his life for the country and after the release his present status was no better than his past.
He returned to a hero's welcome to his village in Gurdaspur in Punjab on April 7, but he had got no job, Sharma said. He said having spent 27 years of his youth in jail, it was virtually impossible for Dass to get a job in the government.
The agency, for which the petitioner was working, has also disowned him, he alleged. Dass demanded that the Centre pay him suitable compensation in view of the fact that he was 54 years old and lost his entire youth serving the country's cause.
Dass was arrested in 1984 on charges of espionage but was released by the Pakistani government recently as a goodwill gesture ahead of the talks the prime ministers of the two countries held in India. Dass was intercepted and arrested by the Pakistan border forces in July 1984 when he allegedly strayed into Pakistan. He was awarded life sentence on December 27, 1986 under the Pakistan Official Secrets Act, 1923.
The Supreme Court had played a major role in his early release. A bench of Justices Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra on March 14, while disposing of his brother's petition, had said: "We think it appropriate to make an appeal on humanitarian grounds to the Pakistan authorities to release the petitioner as he has served almost 27 years in jail.