The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to decide the representation of a Kerala-based man seeking direction for extradition and repatriation of his daughter and minor granddaughter, who are at present detained in Afghanistan's Pul-e-Charkhi jail.
A bench comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai directed the Centre to decide the representation made by V J Sebastian Francis within eight weeks. In his petition, Francis, a resident of Ernakulam district, said his daughter has been booked in India in a case by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and for other offences.
He said that the allegation is that his son-in-law along with his daughter and other accused persons had hatched a conspiracy to propagate terrorist organisation ISIS in waging war against Asiatic nations. Francis said after reaching Afghanistan his son-in-law got involved in a war and was killed, and his daughter and granddaughter, who were not actively involved in the fight, had to surrender before Afghan forces on November 15, 2019, along with several other women.
The apex court also granted liberty to Francis to approach the Kerala High Court if he is aggrieved with the decision taken by the Centre after the eight-week period. At the outset, Francis' counsel submitted that the petition was filed in July last year, before the Taliban took over Afghanistan. The Taliban had taken over the country last year in August. He said though prisons were demolished after the Taliban came to power, it cannot be said that Francis' daughter and granddaughter are not in detention, as there are reports of prisoners being detained in border areas of Afghanistan.
The top court, however, made it clear that all these are matters for the government to decide. "We can direct the government to take a decision and if you are aggrieved you can approach the high court...High courts are also discharging the Constitution and can interpret provisions of international law. We cannot diminish the status of high courts," the bench said.
Francis said that the first detenue (daughter) and the second detenu (granddaughter) with an intention to join the Islamic organisation in Afghanistan exited India on July 30, 2016. The Interpol also issued a Red Corner notice on March 22, 2017, in the name of the first detenue, the plea said. He said during an interview conducted by a news portal, his daughter had repented her decision to join the ISIS and wanted to return to India and face fair trial before courts here.
India had executed an extradition treaty with Afghanistan in 2016 but it has not taken any steps to request extradition of his daughter and granddaughter, who are stuck in a foreign country, Francis claimed. "Since the defeat of the ISIS in Afghanistan...it is anticipated that subsequent to the withdrawal of the American forces the Taliban and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan may enter into a war in which the foreign terrorist fighters like her daughter will be hanged to death," the plea said.
The petition further sought to declare the act of non-processing or non-initiation of steps for facilitating the repatriation or extradition of the detenues by the Centre as illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. It sought a direction to the Centre to initiate steps to extend diplomatic protection or consular assistance to the detenues through its consular or diplomatic office in Afghanistan.
-With PTI Inputs