SC stays release of under-trial prisoners
March 30, 2020
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday suspended all High Court cases related to under-trial prisoners over the coronavirus outbreak across the country. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard the appeal against the IHC order regarding release of under trial prisoners due to threat of coronavirus spread. During the hearing, CJP Gulzar Ahmed questioned under what pretext did the IHC give orders to release the prisoners. “How can the high courts take a suo motu notice,” CJP Gulzar remarked. The SC also declared decisions of other high courts of the country as invalid in this context. The SC in its interim order has directed the concerned authorities not to release any prisoner till final decision in the case. The apex court declared the release of 408 prisoners by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) amid coronavirus pandemic as ‘null and void’. The top court also barred the high courts and the provincial governments from passing any order regarding release of prisoners. The Supreme Court also suspended the operation of IHC orders regarding the release of under trial prisoners. In a notice to the federal government, advocates, IG Islamabad, provincial home secretaries, IG jails and prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau ordered the hearing of any under-trial prisoners. The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday. Earlier, the IHC has granted bail to 408 prisoners imprisoned at Adiala Jail under minor offences due to coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday. Chief Justice Athar Minallah approved bail petitions of the prisoners. The bench also constituted a committee to materialize the release of 408 prisoners on bail. During the hearing, the court remarked that if the prisoners could not satisfy the committee , they would not be freed. The committee included Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), deputy commissioner, IG Police and other concerned officials. Earlier, the district administration in Islamabad had decided to release prisoners jailed over minor crimes amid fears of coronavirus outbreak in overcrowded jails.