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March 28, 2020

Bail to 408 prisoners: SC moved against IHC verdict

Top Story

March 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) will take up next week a petition challenging the verdict of Islamabad High Court (IHC) granting bail to 408 prisoners of Adiala Jail.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed will take up on Monday, March 30 a petition filed by one Raja Muhammad Nadeem challenging the judgment of Islamabad High Court on March 20, 2020.

Other members of the bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandail, Justice Mazar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed. Raja Nadeem filed the petition on Friday in the Supreme Court under Article 185(3) read with 184(3) of the Constitution against the judgment of IHC. Making federation through Secretary Ministry of Interior and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) through Chief Commissioner, Islamabad as respondents, he prayed to the apex court to grant leave to appeal against the IHC judgment.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court fixed the instant matter before a five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan on March 30. The petitioner contended that the IHC is not vested with any jurisdiction to exercise any suo moto powers thus the impugned judgment dated March 20, 2020 is illegal, without any jurisdiction and is liable to be set aside on this ground alone.

It is a settled principle of law that the inherent powers vested in the High Court, can only be exercised in a situation where no express statutory provisions is available, the petitioner contended. He further submitted that the impugned judgment and order is also against the concept of the trichotomy of powers among the legislature, executive and the judiciary. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had granted bail to 408 prisoners imprisoned at Adiala Jail under minor offences in view of coronavirus outbreak.

A single bench of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case and approved bail petitions of 408 prisoners. The learned Islamabad High Court had also directed to constitute two separate committees to materialise the release of 408 prisoners on bail.

Director General (DG) Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) was asked to constitute the committee to scrutinise the cases of the prisoners held under narcotics cases, while Chief Commissioner and Inspector General (IG) Islamabad Police were directed to constitute committee to scrutinise the cases of prisoners involved in other offences.

The order had said that the petitioners were incarcerated in the Central Prison, Rawalpindi. They have sent respective representations through the Superintendent Central Prison, Rawalpindi. All the petitioners are under trial prisoners alleged to have been involved in commission of offences under the Anti-Narcotics Force Act, 1997. The offences are in the nature of non-violent crimes. “Keeping in view the extraordinary situation that has arisen due to COVID-19, this court vide order, dated 20-03-2020, had admitted those prisoners to bail who were alleged to have been involved in offences falling under the non-prohibitory clause," the IHC had ruled.