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April 5, 2020

Lawyer defends IHC verdict in SC on 408 prisoners’ release

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April 5, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A senior lawyer on Saturday defended the verdict of Islamabad High Court (IHC), releasing some 408 prisoners of Adiala Jail in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. Khawaja Haris, senior Lawyer while submitting his written synopsis to the Supreme Court (SC) in the petition challenging the order of IHC, releasing some 408 prisoners of Adiala Jail, contended that in the present situation the verdict of the IHC granting bail to 408 prisoners was the need of the hour and in accordance with law. He submitted that the IHC did not intervene in the executive jurisdiction.

He said that the high court is empowered to grant bail to under trial prisoners in worst situation. He contended that it is cardinal principle of law an accused is deemed to be innocent unless proven guilty. "Thus as it is prolonged incarceration of an accused without there being any prospect of an early conclusion of trial, is in case tantamount to punishing an accused without trial and as such violative of his fundamental right to life, liberty dignity and fair trial, Harris contended.

The senior lawyer submitted that the bench of the learned high court was quite aware of the prevailing situation of the pandemic and was clearly of the view that the coronavirus posed a most serious and imminent threat to the lives of the inmates of Adiala Jail because of its massive over-crowding and the pandemic nature and they had to decide it. In such a situation granting a bail to the inmates was a right decision, he submitted. The lawyer, however, submitted that after the situation gets normal, the prisoners who were granted bail are required to resume the trial. He further submitted that court verdicts are in field wherein it had granted relief to the accused in worst situation. He further said that the argument that the impugned judgment is violative of Article 10-A of the Constitution utterly misconceived. "Article 10-A is for the protection of the accused, not the complainant", Khawaja Harris contended.

Referring to the concept of trichotomy of powers between the legislature, and judiciary, he submitted that the granting bail by the IHC in the titled petition does not in any manner violate this concept. "Indeed if it is to be so construed, then every bail order passed by a court of law would tantamount to violating the concept of trichotomy of power”, he submitted. "It is an established principle of law that where the government policy is found by a court of law to be violative of a fundamental right of a citizen, it can be set aside and struck down, he submitted.

He submitted that without prejudice, to the forgoing submissions, that on the context of the facts and circumstances forming the backdrop of the impugned order, that this is not one of those cases where this august court may intervene to set aside the said order, simply because, as per the petitioner's viewpoint or even otherwise there may be some procedural lapses, or even jurisdictional defect involved. "After all, life is the most precious gift from God", he concluded.

On March 30, a five-member bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan had suspended the order passed by the IHC granting bail to 408 prisoners imprisoned at Adiala Jail under minor offences in view of coronavirus outbreak. The court will resume its hearing in the matter tomorrow.