The Supreme Court on Monday queried the Centre for how long it will keep a Pakistani national under detention against the backdrop that Islamabad denied accepting him as its citizen.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing 62-year-old Mohammad Qamar, submitted before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that the court’s order for release of foreigners lodged in detention centres is in connection with Bangladeshi nationals and not Pakistani nationals.
“How can such a distinction be made? We are only seeking enforcement of this court’s order,” he said.
Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj submitted before the bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, that how can a Pakistani citizen claim equal rights as an Indian citizen, as he emphasised that the petitioner has no right to make this claim.
At this, the bench said: “The question is how long you can keep him.”
It asked Nataraj to seek instructions on what could be done in this matter. “We are giving you two weeks’ time,” the bench told Nataraj.
The petitioner is a Pakistani national who has been languishing in a detention centre in India for seven years. He wants to be released to apply for Indian citizenship as his five children are Indian citizens.
On February 28, the apex court sought Centre’s response whether Qamar can be released for a brief period, to apply for Indian citizenship.
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 Delhi’s Narela here on February 7, 2015 for deportation to Pakistan. However, the Pakistan government refused to accept him.