SC clears Dr Khalil Chisti of murder, says free to return to Pak

Dr Khalil Chisti

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of Pakistani microbiologist Dr Khalil Chisti from custody, acquitting him of murder charge in a 20-year-old case and directing that the punishment given to him for causing injuries be considered as undergone.

While exonerating him of the penal charge of acting in concert in what the court described as a "free fight" situation, where two sides came armed and fought each other, a Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi upheld Chisti's punishment for voluntarily causing hurt under Section 324 of the IPC for his "individual act" of reportedly using a sword in the fight. The maximum punishment under this penal charge is three years in jail, with or without fine.

"Taking note of his age and of the fact that he was in custody for roughly one year and four months, we feel that the ends of justice would be met by altering the sentence to the period already undergone. The conviction and sentence are modified," noted the Bench. Two other co-accused Yasir Chisti and Akil Chisti were also cleared of murder charge. All of them were held guilty only of causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

Chisti said he thanked Allah the moment he was told about the verdict. "I thank the Supreme Court of India for getting justice to me by a fair and honest judgment. I have never lied to the court; never thought of not coming back to India when I was in Pakistan on bail. Allah had always looked after me and I knew that he would ensure justice too," he told The Indian Express.

In May, the court had granted Chisti permission to visit his home city of Karachi during the pendency of his appeal in the Supreme Court and asked him to come back by November 1.

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