Peshawar: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday dismissed the writ petition of an Indian prisoner who was seeking remissions in his prison term, reported The News International.
The court gave the verdict after the Ministry of Interior apprised it that the Indian prisoner, Hamid Nihal Ansari, will be repatriated after completion of his prison term on December 15.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim passed the ruling.
According to the news portal, Nihal Ansari, is languishing in the Central Prison Mardan, where he has been serving the sentence of three-year imprisonment which was awarded to him by a military court in December 2015 after slapping charges of espionage and involvement in anti-state activities on him.
The Pakistan attorney general, representing the government told the court that according to the exchange of prisoners’ agreement between Pakistan and India Ansari will be handed over to Indian authorities through the Wagah border within 24 hours after completion of his prison term.
However, defending Nihal Ansari his counsel asserted before the court that his client was not convicted for any terrorist activity he was entitled to remissions. Ansari’s counsel also emphasised that if he was granted remissions, he can be deported to India now.
Ansari was a teacher at the Mumbai Management College, who in 2012 went to Pakistan to meet a woman whom he had befriended through social media. Ansari went missing after he was apprehended by the Pakistan intelligence agencies and local police from Kohat district in November 2012.
The Pakistani security agencies claimed Ansari had used fake identity card in the name of “Hamza” and he had entered Pakistan through Afghanistan without travel documents. They charged him for “anti-state activities.” Ansari later filed a petition challenging the allegations of being a spy and sought better treatment in prison.
The Mardan Central Prison superintendent in a written reply told the court that Ansari has been kept in a solitary confinement cell owing to the nature of his crime which amounts to anti-state activities, reported the The News International.
“For this reason, he is exempted from the ambit of special remissions granted by the federal and provincial governments and the inspector general of prisons,” the portal quoted Mardan Central Prison superintendent’s reply.
“Under Section 21 (F) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, no remission in the sentence is allowed to any person who is convicted and sentenced for any anti-state offence. The crimes of the petitioner are severe in nature, due to which he has not been granted any remission on the same analogy,” the reply from Mardan Central Prison said.
However, Ansari’s counsel criticised the Mardan Central Prison superintendent’s argument while saying that it is not for the superintendent of a jail to decide whether a prisoner is entitled to ordinary remission or not.
As per The News International, the Pakistan Defence Ministry, echoed similar sentiments as Mardan Central Prison superintendent and said that Ansari, who was convicted by the Field General Court Martial, was not entitled to any remission, owing to the serious nature of charges pressed against him.
The news of the Ansari’s arrest came to fore after his mother Fauzia Ansari filed a habeas corpus petition in the High Court, here. On January 13 the Court informed that Ansari was in the custody of Pakistani Army and was being tried by a military court.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had in August 2016 asked Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad to seek Consular Access to Ansari.