SC hears case pertaining to prisoners’ release due to coronavirus

The Supreme Court on Monday conducted hearing on case pertaining to high court’s decision to release prisoners on bail due to novel coronavirus.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that the apex court wants to analyze the federal government’s performance to counter the pandemic.

“No work is being done by the government apart from holding meetings. The Outdoor Patients Departments (OPDs) of all hospitals in Islamabad are closed.

“I had to get open a big hospital in the federal capital for the check-up of my wife. What kind of medical emergency has been imposed in the country?

“Every hospital and clinic should remain open. The Ministry of National Health Services wrote a letter to the Supreme Court to close its dispensary. Why should the dispensary be closed? Is the pandemic being countered this way?”

The attorney general argued that the federal government is taking best measures against the coronavirus outbreak. The CJP replied that the federation is doing nothing and the report that you have submitted is clarifying that.

CJP Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked advocate general Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) about the report submitted by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari stating that the Peshawar High Court (PHC) ordered the release of 3,200 prisoners.

The advocate general KP replied that perhaps the human rights minister is mistaken as no such order has been issued by the PHC. 

Last week, the Supreme Court had 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.

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