Khizar Hayat, a former police constable, was convicted in October 2001 for killing a fellow policeman. — File
Khizar Hayat, a former police constable, was convicted in October 2001 for killing a fellow policeman. — File

A district and sessions court in Lahore on Friday set the execution of Khizar Hayat, a death-row prisoner diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, on January 15.

According to the death warrant issued by the office of district sessions judge Khalid Nawaz, the execution will take place at Central Jail Lahore.

Hayat, a former police constable, was convicted in October 2001 for killing a fellow policeman, while a trial court had handed him a death sentence two years later.

In December 2018, the Lahore High Court had rejected his mother's petition to stay Hayat's execution.

Following the court's order, the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) called for a halt in the execution of Hayat.

"The warrant stands in blatant violation of the orders of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) that had categorically abstained the authorities from issuing Khizar’s death warrant until the Supreme Court decides the matter of mentally ill death row prisoners in a precedent-setting case currently pending before a larger bench," JPP said in its press release.

“Executing Khizar, while the Supreme Court is still deciding on the question of executing the mentally ill, is not just unnecessarily cruel but also in violation of Pakistan’s international obligations," Executive Director of JPP Sarah Belal said.

"By obtaining the death warrants of a mentally ill prisoner, the prison officials have paved the way for another wrongful execution. This display of utter disregard towards the orders of the country’s foremost authority on human rights by the jail authorities underscores the need for immediate reform to protect the most vulnerable prisoners on death row,” she added.

Black warrants for Hayat have been issued thrice previously, in all instances his execution was stayed.

On June 10, 2015, a black warrant was issued but the LHC had granted him reprieve at the last minute.

In July 2015, a district and sessions judge halted his execution for death warrants issued for July 28, 2015.

Following this, in January 2017, a district and sessions judge in Lahore had issued execution warrants for Hayat. The decision was once again stayed by the high court.

The order had been passed by a division bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Shahid Hameed Dar, on a petition filed by Hayat's mother Iqbal Bano, through Barrister Belal of JPP.

The lawyer had argued that Hayat had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and executing him would violate local and international laws.