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SC Overturns Islamabad High Court’s Orders To Release Prisoners Due To Corona Outbreak

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The under-trial prisoners will not be released due to coronavirus outbreak in the country, as the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s earlier decision to this effect has been overturned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The SC based its verdict on grounds that the high courts do not have the powers to take suo motu notices on the matters that concern the Supreme Court only and in doing so, they had undermined the legislature of the state. This law cannot be toppled under any extreme scenarios.

Supreme Court, however, did accept the recommendation of exempting the least threatening prisoners to the society, who are also most vulnerable inside the prisons during the pandemic.

Some exceptions made by the SC according to media reports include:

  • Women and underage prisoners
  • Prisoners who are of age 55 and above, undergoing a trial
  • Mentally or physically ill prisoners who cannot be treated
  • Men who are under-trial and have only been convicted once with no record of a criminal past

Justice Qazi Ameen remarked in the Monday meeting that the court could not release under-trial prisoners en masse.

“If the infected persons are not in jail, others will be safe,” Justice Qazi Ameen said.

Justice Bandial also added that there was no point of releasing prisoners that were serving a sentence for serious crimes.

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