Pakistani scientist Dr Mohammad Khalil Chishty, 82, has been acquitted by the Supreme Court of murder after a 20-year legal battle in India.
Dr Chishty came to Ajmer in 1992 to visit his ailing mother. There he was
allegedly involved in a brawl in which one of his relatives was killed.
Dr Chishty was arrested for murder and last year, was sentenced to life
in prison by a Rajasthan court.
Reacting to today's verdict, the Pakistani microbiologist said his country should deal with cases of Indians lodged in jails there in the same way. "Just like the Supreme Court here has taken up my case (on humanitarian grounds), their cases (Indians jailed in Pakistan) should be dealt like that."
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said such "gestures" could contribute to the "sense" between the two neighbours. "I think we have to salute the system. The system is objective, fair, transparent and effective," he said speaking to reporters in New Delhi.
The bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi today said the prison sentence of one year and four months that Dr Chisty had already undergone was sufficient to meet the ends of justice and was free to return to his country without any restrictions. Keeping in view his age and qualification, the court directed the concerned department of the government to ensure "smooth" travel arrangements to Pakistan.
In May this year, the Supreme Court granted bail to Dr Chishty, allowing him to visit his family in Karachi, Pakistan. He had not been home in 20 years. The court today also directed its registry to return with interest the Rs 5 lakh that Dr Chishty had deposited with it as security after the May 10 order.
Dr Chishty is now 82 years old and has heart trouble. For the 18 years that he was under trial, Dr Chishty remained largely under house arrest in Rajasthan, his lawyers say. After he was awarded the life sentence in January 2011, he was lodged in the Ajmer Jail. Some others convicted in the same case had been granted bail earlier.(With inputs from Agencies)