–Justice Minallah says state is solely responsible for the well-being of prisoners
ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Saturday stressed that providing medical treatment to jail inmates is the government’s responsibility whereas it has failed in this regard.
He was hearing a petition of Adiala Jail prisoner for treatment on Saturday. A representative of the Ministry of Human Rights was also present during the hearing.
“The state has lesser responsibility when a person is free, but it has all the responsibility to extend medical treatment without any delay when a person is imprisoned,” Minallah further observed.
According to the details, death-row convict, Khadim Hussain had written a letter to Chief Justice Minallah who had converted it into a constitutional petition and sought a reply from the authorities concerned in this regard.
“Your representatives would be monitoring human rights issues (in jails),” the chief justice said while addressing the Ministry of Human Rights’ official.
“The jail administration has been asked for a detailed medical checkup of the prisoners,” the official replied.
“Do you conduct an inquiry if a prisoner dies?” the chief justice inquired.
“Yes, an inquiry is conducted when someone dies in prison,” the official replied.
The chief justice then asked if any inquiry commission had ever held the government responsible for a death who which the human rights official replied in negative.
“Then what kind of inquiry is conducted by your commission,” said Minallah while emphasising that influential persons get every facility, while the poor are deprived of even basic facilities while in jail.
“Laws exist, only enforcement is needed. The laws grant the state authority to release an ailing prisoner and the state could commute the sentence of anyone according to rules,” Justice Minallah said.
“The state should work but it is not doing so, If a prisoner is knocking the door of the court, it means the state is negligent of its responsibility,” he further remarked.
Announcing that the petitions from jail will now be directed towards the commission, the top judge adjourned further hearing of the case till January 18.
In an earlier hearing, Justice Minallah had ordered the federal government to submit a report on the prisoners in jails of all provinces.
The court had also formed a commission headed by Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari to inquire into human rights violations in jails.