–CJP Gulzar says govt closed OPDs of hospitals when there was urgent need to keep them open
–Questions competence of State Minster for Health Dr Zafar Mirza, says he’s just getting air time on media
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Monday rebuked the federal government over its measures to contain the coronavirus, declaring that “nothing is being done on ground”.
The apex court chief is hearing an appeal against the verdict announced by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), directing the government to grant bail to low-risk under-trial prisoners (UTPs) during the pandemic.
At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice said that the government had closed the out-patient departments (OPDs) of all hospitals, leaving no place for patients to seek treatment at such a crucial time.
“Hospitals have been closed when we need them. Up till now, 10 hospitals with 1,000 beds each should have been made operational,” he said.
“Everyone is talking about funds, no one is doing anything. The public has been left at the mercy of God,” he remarked. The chief justice also criticised the government’s efforts to encourage people to stay indoors in order to curb the spread of the disease.
The attorney general (AG) said that the federal government is taking best possible measures to fight the deadly contagion. He further stated that another report, apprising about the situation in the country has also been submitted before the court.
The top judge said that Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari filed a reply that the Peshawar High Court has ordered the release of 3,200 prisoners.
The AGP replied that no such verdict was given by the (PHC), adding that the human rights minister might be mistaken.
The chief justice also questioned the competence of State Minster for Health Dr Zafar Mirza, saying that he is just being given coverage on media on a daily basis.
The top court remarked that no one has come from the Defence Ministry. “The court needs to inquire about what the Defence Ministry is up to,” the SC remarked.
To this, the AGP responded that no one from the ministry was summoned yet.
On Saturday, senior lawyer Khawaja Haris had urged the top court to reconsider its decision of revoking the IHC ruling. In a set of recommendations submitted to the apex court, Haris said that the IHC had announced the verdict in line with the law due to the ongoing crisis.
He had said that it is imperative that measures are taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Last week, the SC had suspended orders issued by the high courts relating to the release of UTPs amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
In its order, the top court said: “No further order shall be passed by any of the high courts and by any of the provincial governments/ICT/Gilgit-Baltistan of releasing the prisoners from the jails.”
In a previous hearing, the IHC had ordered the release of 24 suspects under trial for various corruption-related references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Earlier, the IHC had ordered the issuance of bail for prisoners who were facing trial for minor crimes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. IHC Chief Justice Minallah had issued the order after hearing a case regarding 1,362 prisoners incarcerated in crowded jails.