Court orders medical facilities for Covid-19 positive prisoner

Updated June 06, 2020

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The two-judge bench headed by Justice Omar Sial directed the jail officials to provide all required treatment to the petitioner. — PPI/File photo
The two-judge bench headed by Justice Omar Sial directed the jail officials to provide all required treatment to the petitioner. — PPI/File photo

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday directed jail authorities to provide all necessary medical facilities to an undertrial prisoner who had tested positive for Covid-19.

The 73-year-old prisoner, Akbar Minhas, through his lawyer moved the SHC seeking bail on medical grounds.

His counsel Asad Ashfaq argued that besides being a patient of Covid-19, the petitioner had also been suffering from multiple ailments and needed urgent medical attention and rehabilitative care.

While referring to a letter of the inspector general of prisons, he contended that under Section 397 of the Pakistan Prison Rules, 1978, a jail superintendent can send a report of seriously ill UTPs along with medical reports to the authorities concerned to consider their release on bail.

He further argued that such recommendation was made by the jail authorities for the petitioner.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Omar Sial directed the jail officials to provide all required treatment to the petitioner.

The bench adjourned the hearing on bail till August and Justice Sial observed that the matter regarding release of prisoners in view of Covid-19 outbreak was pending with the Supreme Court and the lawyer may approach the apex court.

The National Accountability Bureau had arrested Minhas in July 2017 over alleged misappropriation of government land and he is facing trial along with co-accused before an accountability court in Karachi.

The IG prisons had sent a letter to the home department on May 21 recommending the release of four prisoners who tested positive for Covid-19.

The letter said that Akbar Minhas, 73; 87-year-old Bahawal Khan (life term convict); another convict Haroon, 60; and 25-year-old Ali Nawaz, also undergoing life imprisonment, were patients of Covid-19 and having prolonged medical history.

“Keeping in view aforesaid prisoners’ serious condition, it is requested that necessary action may kindly be initiated at government level for release of aforesaid prisoners under relevant provision of law in the wake of Covid-19 emergency situation”, it concluded.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020