‘How long can you keep a person inside’: SC on Pak national held in detention centre

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Supreme Court of India

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from Centre on the status of a Pakistani national, languishing in a detention centre for seven years, after Islamabad refuses to accept him as its citizen.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant noted that the person has served his sentence of 3 years and six months, and after completing the sentence he has been lodged in a detention centre since 2015.

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It queried Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, representing the Centre, “At the time, when Pakistan has refused to accept him as its citizen, how long can you keep a person inside?”

Nataraj submitted that the government is bound by Pakistan’s response, as a person convicted under the Foreigners Act has to be kept in a detention centre.

The bench asked the Centre’s counsel to take instructions, whether 62-year-old Mohammad Qamar can be released for a brief period, to apply for Indian citizenship. Qamar’s five children are Indian citizens.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, represented Qamar’s children, who have sought their father’s release from the detention centre in the top court. He cited an order of the apex court, where it directed the Centre to release detenues in the detention centres of Assam who had been lodged for more than two years against the backdrop of the pandemic.

At this, the bench told Nataraj: “Granting citizenship is your call, we are not going to interfere with that.”

The bench noted that Qamar is keen to apply for the Indian citizenship and scheduled the matter for further hearing after three weeks. In August 2011, Qamar was arrested from Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, and held guilty by a court for overstaying his visa and sentenced to three years and six months in jail.

After completing the sentence, he was sent to the detention centre at Lampur in Narela here on February 7, 2015 for deportation to Pakistan. However, the Pakistan government refused his deportation. — IANS

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