The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government to explain as to why no steps were taken to prevent assault on Pakistan prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay inside a Jammu jail.
The court, however, did not allow the plea that Ranjay be repatriated to Pakistan as he has not completed the jail term awarded to him.
"The respondents (the Centre and J&K government) shall explain as to why adequate steps were not taken in advance to avoid the physical assault on May 3 on prisoner Sanaullah... lodged in Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu," a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said, while issuing notices to the central and the state governments.
The court also sought details about the action taken against erring jail officials, besides asking the Centre and the state government to ensure that such incidents do not recur.
During the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justice Kurian Joseph, expressed its anguish over the incident inside the Jammu jail, saying, "This is a very serious matter".
The court, however, did not allow the plea that Ranjay, who is presently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Chandigarh, be sent back to Pakistan on the ground that he has not served the complete life term awarded to him.
"On Ranjay, we have already said that he is a life convict and the question of his repatriation does not arise." On the issue of according the benefit of remission of sentence to Ranjay, the bench said once a decision (by the authorities) is taken, then "we may undertake the exercise of judicial review".
The court was hearing a petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh seeking repatriation of foreign and Pakistani prisoners, including Ranjay, and those who have already spent over 15 years in detention in India.
The petition also sought repatriation of all the mentally challenged prisoners, who are not wanted in any case in India but are lodged in different jails in the country, to their respective countries without any delay.
The petition sought direction to repatriate 52-year-old Ranjay to Sialkot in Pakistan and claimed that as per a counter affidavit filed by the Centre in August last year, he had completed the sentence awarded to him by different courts in India in most of the cases and his repatriation would be in the "interest of universal justice and equity."
"It is submitted that he (Ranjay) has completed more than 18 years in jail with a disciplined life. He has been a music band master at home and also inside the jail...the entire history of the trials would establish that he has completed life imprisonment also," the petition said.
Ranjay is serving a life term after being convicted under TADA provisions, following his arrest in 1999. He was injured on May 3 in a scuffle with another inmate in the high- security Kot Balwal jail in Jammu and was rushed to a Chandigarh hospital in an air ambulance.
The petition has said that the Centre be directed to "repatriate forthwith all the Pakistani and other foreign prisoners who have completed more than 15 years in detention in Indian jails."
"The Union of India may also be directed to repatriate all the mentally challenged persons (including five deaf and dumb lodged in Central Jail Amritsar) who are not wanted in any case in India lodged in the different jails in country back to their respective countries without delay," it said.
The petition also sought a direction to the Centre and the government of Jammu and Kashmir to complete trials of all the foreign prisoners within six months.