Are basic facilities available for poor prisoners in jails across Pakistan?

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who promised to establish the rule of law, has to ensure that there is only one law for both the poor and the powerful. Should it begin from equal treatment by the state to the convicted prisoners, poor or rich, in jails?

prisoners

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has been informed that there were 4,800 inmates in Adial Jail against actual capacity of 1,500 prisoners. The IHC is hearing a case pertaining the health and other facilities for the prisoners in jails across the country. There is a popular opinion that the powerful and rich men and women are given special treatment if they are arrested. Otherwise, analysts believe, the situation is quite dismaying.

According to the details, the point was raised as IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up a petition filed by a prisoner Khadim Hussain for provision of medical facilities in Adiala Jail. Superintendent Adiala Jail was present in the court. He pointed out that the jail was built for 1,500 prisoners, but unfortunately, 4,800 prisoners were currently being kept in the premises.

The CJ took note of the absence of Human Rights and Ministry of Health officials and remarked that it will not be spared any more. Justice Athar Minallah said: “I myself was a guest of Adiala and know well the situation there.”

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.

He remarked that jail authorities were unaware of their obligations and powers, adding prisoners were not just the responsibility of jail management but of the state as well.

Commission Formed to Probe the State of Facilities in Jails

Last week, the IHC formed a commission to investigate human rights violations and the lack of medical assistance to ailing prisoners in the country’s jails.

According to details, the commission headed by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari will also probe 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.

Read more: Ghulam Abbas saved: CJP stays execution of mentally-Ill prisoner

The commission will include 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 will serve as the commission’s secretary.

One Country, Two Laws?

A few days ago, Nawaz Sharif was granted bail by the LHC and Islamabad High Court (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 is the time when the courts will have to decide whether they will treat the common man the same way they are treating the former prime minister.

According to details, the LHC Justice Rasaal Hasan Syed heard the bail petition of the prisoners. The plaintiff has taken the stance that the more than ten thousand prisoners are in jail across the country who suffering from different types of diseases. The petitioner also stated that the prisoners have no facility for their proper treatment in the jails. In the bail petition, it is requested that the other prisoners should be granted bails on medical ground like the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Read more: Imran Khan: Does Not Hold Any Grudge Against Ailing Nawaz Sharif

The court repeatedly sent the petition to the home department to look into the matter and inform the court as to what can be done to facilitate the prisoners.

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