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November 21, 2020

Court seeks details of undertrial prisoners’ nature of offence, maximum sentence

Karachi

November 21, 2020

The Sindh High Court has directed the IG prisons to submit a list of the undertrial prisoners (UTPs) along with the nature of their offence, the duration of their detention and any remission they earned during their incarceration.

The direction came on a petition seeking speedy trials of all UTPs and the release of all prisoners who had served the maximum sentences during the pendency of their trials.

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

They said 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 as many as 3,483 prisoners were detained against a capacity of 1,591.

The petitioners’ counsel, Faisal Siddiqui, submitted that UTPs were kept in inhumane conditions and they were not being provided with their facilities as per the prison's rules and the Sindh Prisons and Corrections Services Act 2019.

He said the Sindh Prisons Rules and the Prisons Act stipulated clear procedures and precautions to prevent overcrowding but no action was being taken to prevent overcrowding in prisons of the province. He said a joint commission should be constituted in order to conduct a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of all the prison facilities, particularly with respect of overcrowding, medical and other facilities.

The court was requested to declare that all UTPs were entitled to speedy trials and order the release of all such UTPs on bail who had spent periods longer than their maximum sentences for their offences during the pendency of the trials, except for “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 Karim Khan Agha, directed the petitioners’ counsel to satisfy the court on the maintainability of the petition. The court directed the IG prisons to submit the list of UTPs with the nature of their offence, the duration of their detention and any remission they earned during their incarceration.

The court directed the Sindh prosecutor general to produce a list of UTPs, stating maximum sentence against the section of the Pakistan Penal Code for which the UTP had been charged along with any fine if applicable.

The court also issued notice to the additional attorney general with the direction to file the details of UTPs who were detained in offences under the federal law along with their maximum sentence in the offence and adjourned the hearing till January 28.