SC to hear Khalil Chisti plea to visit Pak

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed to hear Pakistani scientist Mohammed Khalil Chisti`s plea to visit his country and sought the Centre`s response to it.

The bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam posted the matter for hearing on Monday and asked the Centre to respond to the Pakistani microbiologist`s plea by then.

The eighty-year-old ailing Pakistani scientist had been granted bail on April 9. Held guilty in a 20-year-old murder case, he had been serving life term in a Rajasthan`s Ajmer jail. The apex court had granted bail to Chisti on humanitarian grounds, considering his old age and the fact that he has been in India since 1992 after a murder case was lodged against him when he came to visit Ajmer to see his ailing mother.

Chisti had come to see his mother in 1992 when he got embroiled in a brawl, and, in the ensuing melee, one of his neighbours was shot dead while his nephew got injured.

Born in Ajmer to a prosperous family of caretakers of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti shrine, Chisti was studying in Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947 and chose to stay there. "We are satisfied that a case is made out for enlargement on bail," the bench had said while directing his release of Chisti from jail.

The bench, which had granted bail to Chisti on humanitarian ground had also acceded to consider his plea to let him return to Karachi and had asked him to file a separate application for it. "You file another application and then mention these things that you want to go to your native country and we would consider," the bench had said when senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for Chisti, submitted that he should at least be allowed to live in Delhi.

Chisti`s plea to stay in the national Capital was opposed by the Rajasthan government which said the visa issued to him only permitted his stay in Ajmer and nearby areas. The court had then asked Chisti not to leave Ajmer till further orders.

After a prolonged trial that stretched for 18 years, Chisti was held guilty in the murder case and was awarded life sentence on January 31 last year by an Ajmer sessions court. He had earlier been also granted bail by the sessions court during the trial but was ordered not to leave Ajmer. He was re-arrested to serve the sentence after he was convicted.

Chisti, who suffers from heart, hearing and other ailments, had lived in his brother`s poultry farm till his conviction. His case came to light when Justice Markandeya Katju, the then Supreme Court judge, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging that the Pakistani national be pardoned on humanitarian grounds. An eminent professor of virology in Karachi Medical College, Chisti holds a PhD from Edinburgh University.