For over three decades, Indian spy Mahmood Ansari, now 75, fought a battle for his legal rights. Caught and jailed in Pakistan on espionage charges, he lost his job in the Postal Department, due to “long absence from work”, and ran from courts to government offices for justice – but in vain.
However, the Supreme Court, considering the facts of the matter, on Monday directed the Centre to pay Ansari Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia payment.
Advocate Samar Vijay Singh, representing Ansari, submitted before a bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and S. Ravindra Bhat that the petitioner, who was working in the Railway Mail Service, Jaipur, in June 1974, received an offer from Special Intelligence Bureau to render services towards the nation and he was twice sent to Pakistan to do a specific task.
However, he was unfortunately intercepted by the Pakistani Rangers and arrested on December 12, 1976. Ansari was prosecuted under Official Secrets Act in Pakistan, and in 1978, he was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.
Meanwhile, in July 1980, an ex-parte order was passed to dismiss him from the postal department services. During the period of his incarceration in Pakistan, Ansari wrote several communication informing the authorities concerned about his whereabouts, but to no avail.
“The petitioner always communicated all facts and circumstances to the department, before going to the assignment, submitted his leave application to the respondent and they all had knowledge about why the petitioner is taking leave. Further petitioner also updated his address in the department and after arrest in Pakistan, he has sent information to the department which was duly served on it”, said the plea.
Petitioner’s counsel submitted all relevant documents before the apex court.
In 1989, Ansari, who came back to the country after his release, was informed about his dismissal from services, which he challenged before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jaipur (CAT). The tribunal in July 2000, declined to entertain his application due to delay in filing. His review petition was also dismissed by CAT in September same year.
He filed an appeal to the Member of Postal Board of the Directorate of Posts, Dak Bhawan, New Delhi, but in October 2006, the government department upheld his dismissal from service.
In 2007, he moved back to the CAT, Jaipur, which dismissed his application saying it was not maintainable. In 2008, he moved the high court, which in 2017, held that the petition is not maintainable on the ground of jurisdiction as well as delay, and in 2018, Ansari moved the apex court with a glimmer of hope that he may get some relief.
“The petitioner explained each and every fact and circumstances to the higher office as well as Home Minister of India through representation or letter from Pakistan jaila,” said the plea.
Ansari’s counsel urged the apex court to consider his client’s advanced age and imprisonment in Pakistan, and since his release in 1989, he has been fighting a battle for his legal rights. The Centre’s counsel vehemently opposed the court’s direction for Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia to the petitioner, but the court was unmoved.