The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday temporarily stayed the execution of a schizophrenic man until January 30, his lawyers said, days before he was set to face the gallows.
Khizar Hayat, a 55-year-old former police officer, was sentenced to death in 2003 for shooting a colleague.
The United Nations has previously called on Pakistan to protect mentally ill inmates, singling out Hayat as having “psycho-social disabilities”.
The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which is managing his case, said Hayat's lawyer in September 2015 had challenged the execution in light of his mental illness. However Lahore jail authorities pressed ahead with seeking the death warrant which was granted by a sessions court earlier this week.
His execution had been set for January 17 but on Thursday the Lahore High Court (LHC) temporarily stayed the execution until January 30, a JPP statement said.
According the JPP, the judge Shahid Hameed Dar said it would be “unjust” to proceed on Hayat's case without waiting for the Supreme Court's decision in Imdad Ali's case, another mentally-ill man, who was given a last-minute reprieve from execution by LHC in October.
A final decision on his fate remains pending.
Hayat’s mother Iqbal Bano had filed a plea stating that her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by jail authorities in 2008.
Since his diagnosis, the jail medical officer has consistently referred to Hayat’s delusions, his psychosis, and his mental illness, while ordering powerful anti-psychotic medication for him.
By 2012, Hayat had become so delusional that it was no longer possible to house him among the rest of the jail population and he was moved to the jail hospital, where he has spent the last three years.
Ms Bano contended through her counsel that the LHC had previously stayed her son’s execution after a medical board confirmed that her son was mentally ill and not fit to be executed.
Since lifting its moratorium on executions in December 2014, Pakistan has hanged some 420 prisoners, overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world's third largest executioner nation after China and Iran.
But according to a report by British charity Reprieve, 94 per cent of Pakistan's executions have been for non-terrorism offences, despite the government's claim that capital punishment was reinstated to combat militancy.