Pak SC sets aside orders on prisoner release due to pandemic

Islamabad: The Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an interim order, recalling the bails granted to under-trial prisoners by the high courts of Sindh and Islamabad and ordered authorities to arrest all detainees who had been released due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, however, excluded prisoners suffering from a physical or mental illness; under-trial prisoners who are 55 or older; male under-trial prisoners who have not been convicted in the past; and female and juvenile prisoners, reports Dawn news.

The Supreme Court passed the order during the hearing of a petition challenging the Islamabad High Court verdict, which was issued last month.

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The petition argued that the March 20 IHC order militated against the concept of trichotomy of powers since it was within the exclusive domain of the executive to frame any policy to deal with under-trial prisoners in a manner it deemed appropriate keeping in view the coronavirus emergency.

Last month, the IHC had taken up a petition based on a report of the high court’s judicial branch on Islamabad-based under-trial prisoners and had ordered the release of detainees in Rawalpindi’s overcrowded Adiala jail who were nominated in minor crimes, said the Dawn news report.

The high court had also told capital police not to make arrests in petty matters.

The order was passed in consideration of the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The Sindh High Court had also issued a similar order last month following which district courts had released more than 800 prisoners nominated in cases of petty crimes.

Pakistan currently accounts for 4,004 coronavirus cases, with 55 deaths.

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