NEW DELHI: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that 56 persons, believed to be Pakistani nationals who are under detention in India, are not being repatriated as the Pakistan government has not yet confirmed their nationality.
Due this reason, these persons have been under detention in spite of completing their sentences or no offence having been made out against them, the government said.
The issue of confirmation of their nationality was being taken up "regularly" with the Pakistan High Commission through the Ministry of External Affairs and these 56 persons can be repatriated as soon as their nationality is confirmed by Islamabad, it said.
"All of them have been provided consular access.
It is respectfully submitted that the release of these 56 persons from detention will not be advisable in the interest of national security," the Centre said in an additional affidavit, adding that these 56 persons include four fishermen.
The matter was today listed for hearing before a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan which posted it for hearing after three weeks.
The affidavit also gave details of the status of over 340 prisoners who are either in jail or detention centres or have been repatriated to Pakistan.
It also referred to the data furnished earlier before the apex court and said out of 21 mentally-challenged persons, who are either lodged in detention centres or mental hospitals here, 10 have been repatriated, four have died and the nationality confirmation of the remaining seven persons still awaited.
"It is respectfully submitted that in term of the provisions in the agreement on consular access signed between the Governments of India and Pakistan on May 21, 2008, Government of India has been providing comprehensive lists of Pakistani prisoners and Pakistani fishermen lodged in jails/detention centres in India twice in a year (on January 1 and July 1 every year) to the Government of Pakistan," it said.
The last such list was provided to Pakistani authorities on July 1, 2017 which comprised 263 Pakistani prisoners and 78 Pakistani fishermen, the Centre said.
It said that 20 such prisoners and 13 Pakistani fishermen have been repatriated to Pakistan between July and November last year and 167 were facing trial here.
The apex court had on November last year asked the Centre to "positively" file a report before it on the latest status of foreign nationals, including those from Pakistan, languishing in jails after having served their full sentence.
Senior advocate Bhim Singh, the petitioner in the matter, had earlier told the court that when he had filed the plea in 2005, there were 82 such persons who were detained in Jammu and Kashmir.
The court was hearing the plea which has sought release and repatriation of foreign nationals languishing in different jails in India even after having served their full sentence.
The petition has also raised the issue of Pakistani prisoners arrested for illegally entering India through Jammu and Kashmir.
Expressing serious concern over prolonged imprisonment of such prisoners, the apex court had earlier directed the Centre to release and repatriate 61 Pakistani nationals lodged in various 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 were not forced to remain in jails as courts were being frequently flooded with complaints about Pakistani nationals remaining incarcerated despite having served their sentence.