Convicts completing sentences in Sri Lanka seek release

KARACHI: Sindh High Court SHC on Wednesday issued a notice to Interior Secretary and Attorney General of Pakistan, asking them to submit comments on a petition seeking release of three convicts who were repatriated to Pakistan after completing sentences in Sri Lanka.

A division bench of SHC, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, was hearing three identical petitions filed by three convicts against the detention in Central Prison Karachi. The petitioner, Afzal Nadeem, submitted through his counsel that he visited Sri Lanka for working purposes through a travelling agent in 2004 and as per the instructions of the agent, he handed over suitcase and other belongings to the agent in Karachi before leaving for Sri Lanka.

He said that after reaching Sri Lanka, travelling agent demanded extra money and upon refusal, he threatened him of dire consequences. He said that on 2172004, Sri Lankan police arrested him and charged him with possession of 900 grams of heroin and was given life-term by Sri Lankan court.

The petitioner said that he was transferred to Pakistan on 28712 after fulfilment of all the conditions of Section 6 of Transfer of Offender Ordinance, 2002. He contended that upon his repatriation, his further detention is incompatible according to law.

He prayed to the court to direct the respondents to release him as he has served more than eight years of imprisonment in the prison and said that if such crime would have been committed in Pakistan he would have been awarded a maximum of seven-year imprisonment as per Section 9 b Control of narcotic substances, Act 1979.

Another petitioner said that he reached Sri Lanka on 1752007 and was arrested from airport for possessing contrabands. He said that he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He said that it is important to note that no quantity of recovered contraband stuff was mentioned in judgment of Sri Lankan court.

He also prayed to the court to direct the respondents to release him as he had served more than five years in Sri Lankan jail. Another petitioner, Nadeem Akhtar, told the court that he was arrested on 10102004, charged with possession of 316 grams of heroin, and given life-term. He said that he was transferred to Pakistan on 3072012. He said that he has served more than eight years of sentence in the prison.

According to counsel, petitioner was entitled for lesser punishment as the quantity of the narcotics was not specified.

On June 19, the court had given a last chance for filing comments with a warning that the petition would be decided on the basis of the available record if no comments were filed by the next date.

The bench observed that matter is pending since Aug 12 without any progress and on each and every date, requests for adjournment have been made by DAG office on one or the other pretext but till today DAG office had failed to inform the court as to what quantity of narcotic was recovered from the petitioners in Sri Lanka when they were convicted.

During the hearing on Wednesday, DAG Ashraf Mughal appeared and submitted that DAG office has already sent letters but still no response has been received and he again requested at least for one month time to satisfy the query raised by this court. The bench said that earlier, on 1772013 DAG sought time to obtain instructions from the court of Sri Lanka through ministry of interior, but nothing has been done so far.

The bench expressed annoyance over such situation and issued the notice to Attorney General of Pakistan and Secretary, ministry of interior, directing them to look into the matter and submit the comments till 10102013.

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