Apex court grants bail to Chisti, appreciates India-Pakistan bonhomie

New Delhi, April 9: “Let there be more such good news”, the apex court commented Monday on the bonhomie between India and Pakistan during the visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to India, while granting bail to Pakistani doctor Mohammad Khalil Chisti, who is undergoing life imprisonment in an Ajmer jail for killing a man in 1992.

An apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J. Chelameswar granted bail to Chisti, an 80-year-old virologist, subject to conditions to be imposed by the trial court.

Granting bail to Chisti, the court while taking note of newspaper reports on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit, expressed hope that the bonhomie one got to see between India and Pakistan in last two days may continue to hog media headlines in the days to come.

“What has happened yesterday, it happens in the future also, and is carried forward. There is good news in newspapers. Let there be more such good news,” said Justice Sathasivam in the course of the hearing.

Chisti’s age and the long duration he has been in an Ajmer jail following the killing weighed in his favour. The court also noted that the main prosecution witnesses have testified that he was not involved in the April 1992 brawl, which resulted in the death of one person.

The court also asked senior counsel U.U. Lalit, appearing for Chisti, to move a separate application for his client to go back to his native place in Karachi. The court said this when Lalit sought the court’s direction for Chisti to go back to his country.

The Senior counsel Lalit’s plea seeking direction so that Chisti could come and stay in Delhi were objected to by Rajasthan government’s counsel.

The state government counsel told the court that the Pakistani doctor had visa only for Ajmer and could not move out of that city. He said that any change in the status of Chisti’s visa could only be done by the central government as it involved diplomatic decision making.

Chisti, a virologist at the Karachi Medical College, had come to Ajmer in 1992 to see his mother. He is accused of killing a man during a brawl in April that year in Ajmer. He was in the city to offer prayers at the dargah of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti when the incident happened.

Chisti was awarded life imprisonment in 2010 after the trial that lasted 18 years. During this period he was on bail granted by the session’s court. His appeal challenging his conviction and sentencing was rejected by the state high court.

The octogenarian, who has taught in different universities in Europe and Africa, had suffered two heart attacks and fractured his hip bones and needs assistance of others for doing his essential day to day activities.

Earlier seeking the release of Chisti, the then judge of the apex court and present Chairman, Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his release.

Even though Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gahlot granted him pardon, paving the way for his release and return to Pakistan, the state Governor Shivraj Patil sent the chief minister’s recommendations to the law department, raising many queries and the matter is still pending with governor’s office.

IANS