India, Pakistan to release prisoners booked for petty crimes

February 27th, 2008 - 1:05 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 27 (ANI): The India-Pakistan judicial committee in its first meeting here has decided to release all prisoners belonging to one country but booked for “petty offences”.
The committee on Tuesday directed officials of both countries to prepare and exchange lists of such prisoners before their next meeting in Islamabad, slated for mid-April.
The eight-member joint judicial committee, which was constituted in March last year to look into the issue of Indian and Pakistani prisoners in each others lockups, also held that women, children and those having lost their mental balance should be released forthwith.
Significantly, the judges also held that those detained for holding arms, but with no proof of their being used would also come under the category of “petty crimes”.
Other categories include inadvertent border crossing, fishermen crossing sea borders and citizens overstaying in the other country without visa extensions.
Justice (retired) Nasir Aslam Zahid, the Pakistani member of the committee, said this was a preliminary meeting to take stock of the situation and to provide a chance for foreign and home ministry officials of both countries to interact.
Justice Zahid said though the mandate of the committee was recommendatory, he hoped it would help lead to a significant reduction in the miseries suffered by these prisoners and their families.
The judicial committee will suggest ways and means to resolve issues relating to the early release of such prisoners, he added.
Justice Zahid said the detailed lists of prisoners would help the committee take stock of the numbers and status of prisoners in each country. This will help secure their early release, he said.
He said the Indian contingent of the committee would visit jails in Pakistan in mid-April, and the Pakistani contingent would do the same thereafter. Both countries have been accusing each other of maltreating their citizens in prisons, the Daily Times reported.
Last January, the Foreign Ministers of the two countries decided to set up a committee on prisoners comprised of retired superior judiciary judges to visit jails in each country and propose steps to ensure humane treatment and expeditious release of prisoners. (ANI)

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