Katju on release of Sarabjit Singh
Newslaundry comments: A tweet to Bilawal might have got quicker results.
H.E. The President of Pakistan
Mr. Asif Zardari
Through H.E. the Pakistan High Commissioner to India
Mr. Shahid Malik
Re: Release of Sarabjit Singh
Your Excellency’s recent visit to India and Ajmer Sharif has created a climate for good relations between our two countries.
Your Excellency was very kind to honour the appeal made by the bench of the Indian Supreme Court (consisting of Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and myself) for release of one Gopal Das, an Indian who had been undergoing a life sentence in Pakistan, and had spent 27 years in Pakistani jails. In our judgment we had quoted the famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz:
“Qafas udaas hai yaaron saba se kuch to kaho
Kaheen to behar-e-khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chale”
On Your Excellency’s order Gopal Das was released and was sent back to India. I am very grateful for Your Excellency’s kind gesture.
Now through this letter I am praying to you for similar generosity in the case of one Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national, who has been on death row in a Pakistani jail for over 20 years. I am appealing to you to order release of Sarabjit Singh and his return to India as a humanitarian gesture, exercising your power of pardon as the Pakistan President. By doing so you will add to the excellent impression among Indians created by your recent visit to Delhi and Ajmer Sharif, and improve ties between our two countries.
You would be knowing that the Indian Supreme Court recently granted bail to Dr. Khalil Chishty, for whose release I have been campaigning for a long time. Release of Sarabjit Singh and sending him back to India will add to the friendly atmosphere which has been created.
I will conclude by quoting Portia’s speech in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’
“The quality of mercy is not strained
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes
If is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God’s
When mercy seasons justice”
With kind regards,
(Justice Markandey Katju
Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and
Presently Chairman, Press Council of India)