Without naming Pakistan the Supreme Court on Friday said India has deported several foreign prisoners even in matters where "no reciprocity" has been shown by those nations, as India and Pakistan embroiled in a diplomatic row over Kulbhushan Jadhav.
A bench, comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, while dealing with the issue of release of Pakistani nationals from Indian jails on completion of their prison terms, said no other consideration comes into its way for the release of foreign prisoners once they complete their punishment.
"We do it even when there is no reciprocity from the other country. We do it despite what is happening with our people in that country where they are in jail. We have read about Mr Jadhav", the bench said, without naming Pakistan.
Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death earlier this month by a Pakistani military court on the charge of "espionage", evoking a sharp reaction in India which warned Pakistan of consequences and damage to bilateral ties if the "pre-meditated murder" was carried out.
The apex court made the remarks while hearing a petition filed by senior advocate Bhim Singh relating to Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails.
Singh referred to Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution and argued that even the apex court had directed the Centre to deport those foreign prisoners who have completed their jail term here.
"We are proud of our Constitution", the bench said. Singh, who heads a political party, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, also made a mention of a number of such prisoners languishing in jails here.
The bench asked him to give a list containing details of such prisoners.
"We do not know whether they are political prisoners or they have committed an offence. We do not know about it unless we have the particulars of all these prisoners who have been sentenced for any offence and have undergone the sentence", the bench said.
Singh, however, argued that he was fighting for "the rule of law and the world should know about Indian rule of law."
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench that the matter was pending for a long time and there was a mechanism by which the prisoners, who are from other countries and have served their sentences here, were sent back to their native nation.
"How long will this go on? The petitioner wants to keep on prolonging it without giving any details", he told the bench which said it would hear the matter on May 3.
The court is hearing a petition, which has also espoused the cause of Pakistani prisoners arrested for illegally entering India through Jammu and Kashmir.
The petitioner had earlier told the apex court that 37 prisoners were still languishing in Amritsar jail and they should be repatriated to their country as they have completed their sentence.
The Centre had earlier told the court that as per its directions, Pakistani nationals who are languishing in jails here, were being sent back to their country.
Expressing serious concern over prolonged imprisonment of such prisoners, the apex court had directed the Centre to release and repatriate within four weeks 61 Pakistani nationals languishing in jails in India despite having undergone their punishment for various offences.
It had also asked the government to bring in a suitable mechanism to ensure that such foreign nationals are not forced to remain in jails as courts are being frequently flooded with complaints about Pakistani nationals being incarcerated in jails despite having served their sentence.