Islamabad, May 31: Pakistan's Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a petition asking it to direct authorities to take steps for the early release of Pakistani scientist Khaleel Chishti, who has been languishing in an Indian jail for nearly 20 years.
The petition, filed by leading lawyer Syed Iqbal Haider on behalf of Chishti's daughter Shoa Jawaid, All Pakistan Women's Association and Legal Aid Call Centre, asked the apex court to ask the government to make diplomatic efforts for the release and repatriation of the 78-year-old scientist on humanitarian grounds.
After hearing Haider yesterday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry decided to admit the petition for hearing and issued notices that asked the secretaries of the Interior and Foreign Ministries to submit their responses by June 15.
The petition asked the Supreme Court to consider making a request to the Indian President and Prime Minister and the Governor of Rajasthan state to order the release and repatriation of Chishti after remitting his sentence. In this regard, the petition referred to the Indian apex court's request to the President of Pakistan that resulted in the release of Indian prisoner Gopal Das, who was repatriated earlier this year.
Chishti did his PhD from Edinburg University in Scotland. He also holds a degree in biology from the London University.
He worked as a professor in universities in Karachi, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iran.
Chisti had gone to see his ailing mother in Ajmer in India in 1992, when he was implicated in a murder case. A dispute involving some relatives took an unseemly turn and he was arrested on a charge of murder. Rights activists have maintained that the charges against Chishti are false.
In December last year, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a district court.
He is suffering from serious health problems, including a hip fracture that has rendered him unable to move on his own. PTI