The Kerala High Court on Monday, January 31, directed the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to take a decision within three months on the representation by a woman seeking release of her son from a UAE prison where he is serving a 10-year jail term, since 2015, for allegedly spying for the Indian government.
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan passed the directions and disposed of the woman's plea seeking legal aid for him in UAE and to bring him back to India. He directed the ministry to consider the woman's representation made on June 11 last year â€˜as expeditiously as possible, at any rate within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgmentâ€™. The court, in its order, has also directed the MEA to give an online hearing to her before taking a final decision.
The woman's son, Shihani Meera Sahib Jamal Mohammed, was awarded a 10-year jail term in August 2015 and the sentence was upheld by the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal, the Union government had informed the court in December last year. It had also told the court that the mother, Shahubanath Beevi, may have to wait till 2025 to see her son as he would be released in September 2025 and then deported to India.
Giving details of the steps taken by it, the Union government had told the HC that the Indian Embassy in UAE had requested the local authorities to consider the case sympathetically and pardon the sentence of Mohammed, but they declined to grant any such relief as it is a case related to the West Asian country's national security. As there was nothing more the Embassy could do, it had updated the same on the MADAD portal and recommended that it be closed, the union government had said. They had also told the court that the emails sent to the Embassy for filing a mercy petition on behalf of Mohammed have been forwarded to the local authorities concerned for their sympathetic consideration.
The submissions by the Union government were made in a statement filed in the court in response to Shahubanath Beevi's plea filed through advocate Jose Abraham, seeking legal support for her son. The woman had claimed that her son has been subjected to "severe torture and harassment" and he did not get any kind of support from the Indian Embassy there or the union government.
The woman, in her plea, had also claimed that according to the judgements passed by the UAE courts in the matter, her son was "acting for the Indian Embassy officials in UAE". The woman had alleged that her son was not even provided proper legal aid to defend himself in the courts there.