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Petitioner seeks relief from LHC for prisoners languishing in Punjab jails despite completing sentences

March 18, 2019

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The petitioner stated that a large number of prisoners continue to languish in Punjab's jails due to their inability to pay their fine or diyat. — AFP/File
The petitioner stated that a large number of prisoners continue to languish in Punjab's jails due to their inability to pay their fine or diyat. — AFP/File

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday accepted for hearing a petition seeking the release of prisoners in Punjab who remain in jail despite completing their sentences due to their inability to pay the fines imposed on them.

Advocate Nadeem Sarwar in his petition stated that a large number of prisoners are languishing in jails because they are unable to pay the diyat amount or the fines handed to them.

The petitioner contended that it is the state's obligation to pay fines and diyat in such cases. He pleaded with the court to order the government to discharge its duty and pay the amounts.

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Justice Syed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi remarked that the matter was relevant to all four provinces so the Supreme Court would be an appropriate forum for this case, to which the petitioner responded by requesting the high court to provide as much relief as possible at a provincial level.

The judge then turned to the law officer present in court and asked his opinion on the issue. The law officer excused himself, saying that he was unable to read a copy of the petition and sought time to respond, adding that the issue also involves the federal government.

The judge reprimanded the law officer and directed him to be prepared prior to his appearances if he wished to continue working in court.

Justice Naqvi issued notices seeking responses from the Punjab home secretary and the Inspector General for Prisons. The case will be fixed for hearing shortly.