Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail is packed beyond capacity, housing over 5,000 inmates, far more than its existing capacity of a little over 2,000, ARY News reported on Friday. A report furnished to the Ministry of Interior states that the prison has a staggering 257 percent more prisoners than its sanctioned capacity as it houses 5,591 prisoners as against its maximum capacity of 2,174.
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As per the report, the inmates include 3,385 under-trial prisoners (UTPs) and 1,884 convicts. The prison also houses 322 inmates awaiting court verdicts in their cases. 1,430 of the prisoners kept in Adiala Jail belong to Islamabad while 300 prisoners have been brought from other provinces.
CJ IHC took the matter of prisoners up
On November 30, 2019, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was informed that there were 4,800 inmates in Adial Jail against the actual capacity of 1,500 prisoners. The IHC was hearing a case pertaining to the health and other facilities for the prisoners in jails across the country.
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The CJ of IHC took note of the absence of Human Rights and Ministry of Health officials and remarked that it will not spare anyone. Justice Athar Minallah said: “I myself was a guest of Adiala and know well the situation there.”
Commission presents report on facilities in jails
Later on, the IHC formed a commission to investigate human rights violations and the lack of medical assistance to ailing prisoners in the country’s jails.
The commission was headed by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari. It probed into the government’s failure to fulfill its obligations and enforce the Prison Rules and the Code of Criminal Procedure regarding inmates suffering from illness.
The commission also included the secretaries of the interior and health ministries, the chief secretaries of the four provinces, former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission Zohra Yousaf, journalist Ghazi Shahabuddin, Supreme Court lawyer, and philanthropist Zia Awan and former FIA director General Tariq Khosa. The human rights secretary served as the commission’s secretary.
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In 2020, the Ministry of Human Rights furnished a report to the Supreme Court on the measures it had been taking to contain the spread of the coronavirus among inmates, painting a grim picture of conditions in the country’s overpopulated prisons.
The report stated prisons across Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are packed beyond capacity.
The report said Punjab’s 41 prisons house a total of 45,324 inmates, far more than the existing capacity of 32,000. Sindh’s 24 prisons are too overpopulated with 16,315 prisoners. The total sanctioned strength of the province’s jails is 13,538.
Whereas, the situation in KP’s jails is no different where 9,900 prisoners have been incarcerated in 24 jails which should house 4,519. However, Balochistan’s prisons with the sanctioned capacity of housing 2,550 inmates have only 2,122 prisoners.
One country, two laws?
Last year, Nawaz Sharif was granted bail by the LHC and IHC for being critically ill. The medical call board also advised the government to let Nawaz leave for London for his treatment. This generated a controversy in Pakistan where many people asked if an ordinary prisoner falls ill, will he be allowed to get treatment of his choice from his desired hospital?
After Nawaz had left, a bail petition of ten thousand prisoners was filed in the LHC on medical grounds. The petitioner has contended that since the precedent has been set, everyone who is ill needs to be given relief by the courts. Analysts believe that this was the time when the courts would have to decide whether they will treat the common man the same way they are treating the former prime minister.
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