New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday set free Pakistani virologist Mohammad Khalil Chisty, given life term for a murder in Rajasthan in 1992, and ordered issuing travel documents for allowing him to return to his country.
"We feel that the ends of justice would be met by altering the sentence to the period (of imprisonment) already undergone," said an apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Octogenarian Chisty, who challenged his life term, has already spent one year and four months in jail.
Justice Sathasivam said that "considering his (Chisty) individual act, he can only be convicted under Section 324 of IPC and taking note of his age and of the fact that he was in custody from April 14, 1992 till May 9, 1992 during the trial and again from Jan 31, 2011 to April 12, 2012, we feel that the ends of justice would be met by altering the sentence to the period already undergone."
The court directed that "if the passport or any other document of the appellant (Chisty) is in the custody of the trial Court or any other authority of the government of India, they are directed to return the same to him and he is free to return to his country without any restriction".
"Taking note of his age and academic qualification, to facilitate such course (return to Pakistan) ...the concerned department of the government of India is directed to issue necessary visa and complete all the formalities for his smooth return to his country," the court said.
The court directed its registry to return Rs.5 lakh, along with interest, that Chisty had deposited with it following a May 10 order in which he was allowed to visit Karachi.
"In view of our conclusion that no further custody is required, the registry is directed to return the said amount to Mohammad Khalil Chisty or his nominee forthwith," the court ordered.
Chisty was granted bail by the apex court April 9. He was awarded life imprisonment in 2010 after a trial that lasted 18 years.
Chisty was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a man in a brawl when he went to offer prayers at the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty in Ajmer in April 1992.
Besides giving relief to Chisty, the court modified the conviction and sentence of two other convicts Yasir Chisty and Akil Chisty and directed that they too be set free.