Release of undertrial prisoners
SC urged to reconsider decision against IHC ruling
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: Senior lawyer Khawaja Haris urged the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Saturday to reconsider its decision of revoking an earlier court ruling that granted bail to low-risk, undertrial prisoners during coronavirus pandemic.
In a set of recommendations submitted to the apex court Saturday, Haris said that the Islamabad High Court announced the verdict in line with the law due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
He said that it is imperative that measures are taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Shedding light on the IHC decision, the legal practitioner said that a high court can grant bail to undertrial prisoners under extraordinary circumstances such as the prevailing one.
Haris said that the IHC verdict was not an impediment in the functioning of the executive branch of the government and the apex court should not declare it null and void, considering the pandemic.
“Until crime is proven the suspect is considered an innocent,” he said.
Last week, the Supreme Court suspended orders issued by the high courts relating to the release of under-trial prisoners amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
In its order, the top court said: “No further order shall be passed by any of the high courts and by any of the provincial governments/ICT/Gilgit-Baltistan of releasing the prisoners from the jails.”
In a previous hearing, the IHC had ordered the release of 24 suspects under trial for various corruption-related references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Earlier, the IHC had ordered the issuance of bail for prisoners who were facing trial for minor crimes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. IHC Chief Justice Minallah had issued the order after hearing a case regarding 1,362 prisoners incarcerated in crowded jails.
Punjab government informs SC about measures taken to curb coronavirus
The Punjab government on Saturday submitted a report in the Supreme Court on the coronavirus precautionary steps it had taken in prisons across the province.
The report stated that all jails across the province have been issued the World Health Organisation’s directives. Prisoners who are brought to the jails are separated for 14 days at first.
The report further said that a suspected patient of the virus in Camp Jail Lahore had been shifted to Mayo Hospital for treatment whereas the jail had been turned into a 40-bed quarantine centre.
The government told the apex court that it will have to bear a loss of Rs44.8 billion due to the coronavirus. In its report, the Punjab government informed the Supreme Court that it had earmarked Rs10 billion for the Insaf programme.
The Punjab government said that it had started taking these precautionary measures from January 13. It said that doctors were operating in prisons across the province on a temporary basis till new ones were not hired.
The report said that an emergency had been imposed across the province to deal with the pandemic and that a committee had been constituted to contain the spread of the virus. It will be headed by the chief minister.