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Friday December 03, 2021

Release of 408 prisoners over Covid-19: PBC, SCBA concerned at petition against IHC verdict

March 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The legal fraternity has expressed concerns over what it called prompt fixation before a larger bench of the Supreme Court (SC) a petition challenging judgement of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for the release of 408 prisoners from jail in the wake of COVID-19 risk. In a joint statement issued here on

Saturday, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Abid Saqi and Syed Qalb-i-Hassan, President, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) have expressed their concern on filing of a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging thereby the judgement of the IHC for the release of 408 prisoners from jail in the wake of COVID-19 risk. They also expressed concerns over its prompt fixation for hearing before a larger bench of the Supreme Court on Monday, the 30th March, 2020.

They recalled that all the bar bodies and the legal fraternity have fully appreciated and supported the timely decision/judgement of the IHC regarding conditional release of 408 prisoners from Adiala Jail, which has been taken/passed in peculiar circumstances arisen as a result of the outbreak of deadly COVID-19, just on humanitarian and compassionate grounds only in cases of under trial prisoners.

They also expressed the hope that the other superior courts may also take/pass similar decisions/orders on humanitarian grounds that being the demand of the grave situation confronting Pakistan. "The rapid increase in spread of coronavirus the world over, which has also gravely attacked Pakistan as well, needs concerted efforts and practical contributions on war footing basis by all concerned, within sphere of their activities, including our courts, to combat the deadly disease”, they maintained.

They said that Pakistan is one of very few countries in the world, having large percentage of under trial prisoners which is one of the main causes of overcrowding of our jails.

Heads of both the apex bar bodies, have expressed their earnest hope that the Supreme Court while hearing and deciding the petition will kindly keep in view the hardships of and COVID-19 threats to under trial prisoners in overcrowded jails of the country, which are endangering even their lives, and its decision in the matter will promote the object of protection of human rights especially of the under trial prisoners.

“The verdict of the apex court of the country surely will improvise the system of dispensation of justice pertaining to preservation of human rights”, they expressed their optimism.

One Raja Muhammad Nadeem the other day had challenged the judgment of IHC granting bail to 408 prisoners from jail in the wake of COVID-19 risk.

The petitioner had contended that the IHC is not vested with any jurisdiction to exercise any suo moto powers thus the impugned judgment dated order March 20, 2020 is illegal, without any jurisdiction and is liable to be set aside on this ground alone.

Meanwhile, the same day, the petition was fixed before a larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed on March 30.

Other members of the bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mazar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed.