LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday expressed his concern over the idea of execution of mentally-ill condemned prisoners.

“This is beyond my understanding that a mentally-ill person can be executed,” he said.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, also comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing appeal of schizophrenic death row prisoner Kanizan Bibi.

Court to scrutinise Dr Tauqir’s WTO posting

The court’s amicus curiae, Ayesha Hamid, told the chief justice that all legal remedies including mercy petition before the president had been exhausted by the prisoner. She said the president stayed the execution of Kanizan Bibi due to her mental health.

Barrister Sarah Belal requested the court that a medical board should be directed to examine current mental health of Kanizan Bibi. She also requested the court to order shifting of the schizophrenic prisoner to the Punjab Institute of Mental Health (PIMH) so she could get proper medical treatment and care.

To a court’s query, a lawyer from complainant side in another identical case stated that there was no such bar on the execution of handicapped or mentally-ill prisoners under local laws and jail manuals.

At this, Justice Ahsan observed that there were international human rights conventions against the execution of the mentally-ill prisoners.

CJP Nisar observed that his wisdom could not accept execution of such a person. He said the court would get the examination of Kanizan Bibi by a medical board before further proceeding in the case. The chief justice tasked the already constituted medical board with the job.

He also ordered shifting of the prisoner to the PIMH and directed its consultant Dr Tahir Pervez who was present in court to personally take care of her and ensure good medical treatment.

CJP Nisar observed that there were serious complaints about sexual abuse with the women patients admitted to the PIMH. He warned the consultant to ensure that no such incident takes place in the institute and also directed lawyers Zafar Iqbal Kalanuri and Ayesha Hamid to visit the hospital and file a report on its condition.

The chief justice suspended the execution of Kanizan Bibi till further orders and sought her medical examination report on a hearing to be held in Islamabad along with an identical matter of another schizophrenic death row prisoner, Imdad Ali.

Kanizan Bibi had been languishing in jail for the last 27 years and was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2000.

Rimmel Mohydin of the Justice Project Pakistan said the notion of a penal punishment was wasted on mentally-ill prisoners like Kanizan and Imdad Ali who needed all the protection that they could get.

She said the Supreme Court must be credited for clarifying why they could not be punished. DR TAUQIR CASE: Hearing multiple public interest cases at the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry, the chief justice took exception to the appointment of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s former principal secretary Dr Syed Tauqir Shah as ambassador/permanent representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

A two-judge bench was hearing a suo motu case regarding appointment of vice chancellors of the public-sector medical varsities, when the CJP asked Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, “Where is Dr Tauqir Shah nowadays?” The chief secretary replied that the federal government had appointed Mr Shah as permanent representative to the WTO in Geneva.

“Where is Geneva?” the chief justice asked the chief secretary, who responded, “It’s in Switzerland”.

“Is this the same country which is known for stashing ill-gotten money?” the chief justice asked, adding: “Was he a very brilliant bureaucrat that the government posted him in foreign mission?”

Responding to a court query, Punjab Health Minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq said sometimes it becomes necessary to live abroad.

CJP Nisar observed that Mr Shah had been enjoying a lot during his posting at the Chief Minister Secretariat.

“Let us see how much his foreign appointment is transparent,” he said and ordered the establishment secretary to submit record of the appointment in question and issued a notice to be served to Mr Shah through Pakistan Embassy in Switzerland.

Mr Shah was serving as principal secretary to the Punjab chief minister when Model Town incident occurred in 2014.

Meanwhile, Ayesha Hamid stated a new search committee constituted for the Nishtar Medical University, Multan, had recommended a panel of three nominees for the post of vice chancellor. She said the names would be soon sent to the chief minister for the selection of the VC.

The CJP said the court hoped that the chief minister would select the most competent candidate. Ms Hamid stated the recently-appointed VC, Dr Zafar Tanvir, had tendered his resignation in the light of the court’s observations.

About the King Edward Medical University, convener of the relevant search committee, Dr Amir Aziz, told the court that the vice chancellor’s slot would be filled within two weeks.

The chief justice decided to constitute new search committees for the Fatima Jinnah Medical University, the Faisalabad Medical University and the Rawalpindi Medical University for appointments of the VCs afresh.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2018