The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the formation of a medical board of noted psychiatrists to re-examine death-row inmate Imdad Ali, who is a patient of paranoid schizophrenia, to determine since when the convict has been suffering from the disorder.
According to a report in the local media, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, who was heading a five-judge bench that had taken up petition of Imdad Ali’s wife Safia Bano, who sought review of the Sept 27 death sentence awarded to the 50-year-old inmate, observed that the matter is delicate and convicts awarded capital punishment should not be suffering from any physical or mental health issues.
The court ordered the medical board to furnish its final report to the apex court in two months and directed the presence of a member of the medical board in the courtroom when the matter is taken up again.
On Tuesday when the petitioner’s lawyer, Advocate Syed Iqbal Hussain Gillani requested the court to allow the patient to be shifted to any mental hospital from the jail, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, a member of the bench, cited a recent visit of the apex court judges to a mental health facility where they found the conditions of the hospital deplorable.
Justice Malik noted: “We have to decide whether the execution of an inmate will remain relevant if the convict had developed the disease two years before his execution date.”
An SC bench, headed by then chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, on November 18, 2016, had ordered the constitution of a three-member medical board of renowned psychiatrists to thoroughly examine Imdad Ali and submit its findings after complete medical assessment of the patient.
The same bench had on October 31, 2016 stayed the execution of Ali by suspending the second black warrant issued for his execution. The earlier warrant was issued on July 26, 2016. The president had already rejected Ali’s mercy petition on November 17, 2015.
Safia Bano had filed the appeal against the Aug 23, 2016 rejection by the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench of upholding the death sentence awarded by the trial court.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had ruled that mental sickness like schizophrenia did not strike down the death sentence because such psychiatric disorder was not a permanent disease and is curable with proper treatment.
In his review petition, the IG prisons pleaded that the court judgement had bound the definition of schizophrenia contrary to the universally accepted medical definition in terms of ‘mental disorder’ as envisaged by the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001, Punjab. The review petition also stated that the Sharia prohibited execution of a mentally challenged prisoner and that the view was endorsed by Islamic jurisprudent Allama Ibne Abideen in his celebrated work — Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar.
Safia Bano, in her review petition, pleaded that the medical records reflected that Imdad Ali had consistently displayed symptoms of schizophrenia he was diagnosed in prison, hence he was subject to the relevant procedures under the Pakistan Prison Rules, 1978 that asked for transfer of such patients to a mental hospital.