Friday July 12, 2024

SHC issues notices to home dept, prisons IG on plea for speedy trials of prisoners

By Jamal Khurshid
October 26, 2019

The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to the home secretary, the prisons inspector general and others on a petition seeking speedy trials of all under-trial prisoners and release of all such prisoners who had served the maximum sentences of their alleged offences during the pendency of their trials.

Petitioner Mohammad Jibran Nasir and other rights activists and organisations submitted in the petition that prisons in the province were overcrowded and as many as 18,240 inmates were incarcerated in 25 prisons of the province against a total capacity of 12,413.

They submitted that the Karachi central prison was also overcrowded in which over 6,000 prisoners were detained against a capacity of 2,400, while in the Malir jail 3483 prisoners were detained against a capacity of 1,591.

The petitioners’ counsel, Faisal Siddiqui, submitted that under-trial prisoners were kept in inhumane conditions and they were not being provided their facilities as per the prisons rules and the Sindh Prisons and Corrections Services Act 2019.

He stated that the Sindh Prisons Rules and the Prisons Act clearly stipulates clear procedures and precautions to prevent overcrowding; however, no such action is being taken to prevent such overcrowding in prisons of the province.

He submitted that a joint commission should be constituted in order to conduct a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of all prisons’ facilities, particularly with respect of overcrowding, medical and other facilities.

The court was requested to declare that all under- trial prisoners were entitled to speedy trials in accordance with the law and order release of all such under-trial prisoners on bail who had spent periods longer than their maximum sentences for their alleged offences during the pendency of the trials except dangerous and hardened criminals.

He also sought the issuance of a direction to the provincial government to form a joint commission to conduct a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of all prison facilities.

A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro, after the preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to the advocate general of Sindh, the home department, the IG prisons and others and called their comments on November 13.