SC sets aside IHC, SHC orders on prisoners’ release

By Asim Hussain

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Sindh High Court (SHC) orders pertaining to the release of prisoners. “In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, we consider it expedient to convert this petition into one under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution and in exercise of powers vesting in the Court under Article 187 thereof set aside the impugned directions issued by the Islamabad High Court as well as High Court of Sindh; bails granted to the accused/convicts, thereunder, are re-called,†read the apex court order.
A five-judge larger bench – headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed “ however, accepted Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan’s recommendations regarding the release of prisoners. The AGP had proposed to the apex court to release the under trial prisoners (UTPs) accused of minor crimes, in the wake of the novel coronavirus.
The attorney general submitted a written proposal to the SC, whose five-judge larger bench is hearing a petition filed against the March 20 order of the IHC release of UTP’s. The AGP said the apex court has been directed to exercise its power under Articles 184(3) and 187 of the Constitution, in matters related to prisoners all across the country.
The proposal said accused persons charged for offences under non-prohibitory clauses or under vagrancy law or offences carrying less than three years sentence may be considered for bail. He added that it should not be considered in cases involving abuse or violent acts against children and women, but persons suffering from ailments or disability should be considered.
AGP Khan said bail should be considered in the case of UTPs who are 55-years-old or older, provided there is no history of past convictions, adding that it should also be extended to all women and juvenile UTPs. He further proposed that bail in these cases may be extended on personal bonds. “Some categories of convicted persons may be considered for release by the provincial governments under Section 401 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).â€
AGP Khan further said that convicts who have completed their sentences but remain in jail due to non-payment of fine/monetary penalties and women/juvenile convicts who have served 75 per cent of their sentence and have no history of past convictions can be released. In addition, convicts whose remaining term in jail is six months or less – provided that the offence was not abuse against women or children – and women/juveniles who are sentenced to a term of one year or less, may also be released on bail.