KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday took the prisons and health authorities to task over the hospitalisation of former Sindh minister Sharjeel Memon and Shahrukh Jatoi, a convict in the Shahzeb murder case, and directed the inspector general of prisons to also shift the ex-minister back to jail after the officer said the convict had already been taken back to prison.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, snubbed Sindh IG Prisons Nusrat Magan, directing him to shift the prisoners back to jail, submit a compliance report and produce the doctors who recommended hospitalisation of the prisoners.
At one point, the chief justice also asked a senior lawyer whether the trial of the former Sindh minister could be shifted to Punjab.
The bench also comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was hearing a set of cases including shortage of potable water and worsening sanitation conditions in Sindh, matters related to government-run hospitals in Karachi, admission to private medical colleges, makeshift school in Clifton, inconvenience to passengers in baggage handling at airports and the hospitalisation of the former provincial minister and that of the convict in the Shahzeb murder case.
Chief Justice Nisar said he was being criticised for taking suo motu notices but he was not bothered by criticism and reiterated that he was committed to protecting the fundamental rights of citizens. He added that he waited for one year but nobody came forward to help address the basic public issues.
Appearing before the bench, the IG prisons said Jatoi was shifted to hospital for chest pain but was taken back to prison when his medical report said the condemned prisoner was suffering from piles.
The chief justice also directed him to produce the doctors who recommended hospitalisation of the prisoners. He said that if there was no case of surgery then how doctors could suggest two-week hospitalisation to prisoners.
The chief justice again snubbed the IG prisons when he attempted to justify the shifting of Mr Memon to the hospital on a trial court order. The bench observed that the trial court had not ordered the IG prisons to move him to hospital and directed him to immediately shift the ex-minister back to jail seeking a compliance report. The court further directed the officer to come up with a complete report regarding the prisoners being treated at hospitals in Sindh.
Later, IG Magan submitted a compliance report after shifting the ex-minister back to jail.
CJP visits JPMC
Meanwhile, the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) sought explanation from Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Executive Director Dr Seemi Jamali on complaints about availability of doctors and health facilities at the hospital.
In her reply, Dr Jamali said that the JPMC was devolved to the province after the passage of the 18th Amendment but the high court declared the devolution ‘unconstitutional’ and the case was still pending before the apex court. She informed the court that they were facing shortage of doctors and paramedical staff as recruitment had been stopped due to litigation.
The court asked her about the availability of medical equipment and directed her to submit a report along with an affidavit that all medical facilities were available at the JPMC.
Later, the chief justice himself visited the JPMC, heard complaints of patients and expressed dissatisfaction over JPMC performance.
The chief justice then directed the health secretary to file a report within two weeks about the improvement made so far in government hospitals.
The Supreme Court directed the provincial education secretary to visit a makeshift school, being run by a non-governmental organisation under a flyover in Clifton, and provide an alternative place and other facilities to the NGO.
Baggage handling at airports
The SC bench sought a report from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding baggage handling at the airports within three days.
The chief justice asked an additional director of the CAA to explain the reason for a growing number of complaints about missing belongings of passengers at the airports and directed him to form a regulatory body to improve the situation.
While taking up matters related to supply of potable water and sanitation conditions, the Supreme Court ordered the Sindh government to remove the public health engineering secretary over his poor performance and appoint another official, Asif Haider Shah, in his place. “We are giving you your own man,” the chief justice told Sindh Chief Secretary Mohammad Rizwan Memon, asking him to appoint Mr Shah as new secretary of the department, when the court was informed that the volume of the solid waste generated in the metropolis was increasing day by day.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018