PHC seeks report on treatment of ailing military court convicts

Updated 30 Oct 2020

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The Peshawar High Court directed the superintendent of the Mardan Central Prison to produce a detailed report about the medical care provided to the detainees. — APP/File
The Peshawar High Court directed the superintendent of the Mardan Central Prison to produce a detailed report about the medical care provided to the detainees. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the superintendent of the Mardan Central Prison to produce a detailed report about the medical care provided to the detainees, who were convicted by military courts and suffer from chronic diseases.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Syed Mohammad Attique Shah declared that the report should include details of those prisoners, the nature of their illness, and treatment provided to them.

It directed additional advocate general Riaz Khan to inform the prison’s superintendent about the report production orders over a petition jointly filed by 25 military court convicts imprisoned in the Mardan jail.

The petitioners have sought the court’s intervention for the provision of proper medical care to them and other convicts suffering from chronic diseases.

The court will fix the next date of hearing later.

Detainees complain about denial of medical care in Mardan jail

Sultan Murad and other prisoners have prayed the court to order the respondents, including the provincial home secretary and inspector general of prisons, to ensure the provision of proper medical care to them.

They also sought the court’s orders for the IG (prisons) and Mardan prison’s superintendent to install a public call office in their barracks to call families and lawyers under the supervision of the jail authorities.

Shabbir Hussain Gigyani, lawyer for the petitioners, said he had produced a list of the convicted prisoners and nature of their illness.

He said it was the prime duty of the state to provide all citizens with medical facilities and that, too, on their doorstep in line with the Constitutional provisions.

The lawyer added that the duty more rigorously lied upon the state functionaries where a citizen was confined under the state custody and when his or her rights, movement and approach to such facilities had been restricted.

He said his clients, who were convicted by military courts, along with other such prisoners had been kept in a separate barrack at the Mardan Central Prison.

The lawyer said the petitioners were convicted by military courts but the high court acquitted them afterward. However, they weren’t freed due to a stay order issued by the Supreme Court against their acquittal.

He claimed that dozens of prisoners convicted by military courts were patients of severe and chronic diseases but they were denied proper medical care for ‘security reasons’.

The lawyer pointed out that one of those convicts, Naimalullah, whose petition against conviction had been pending with the high court, had expired in custody. He said that detainee had broken a leg and an arm at an internment centre but he didn’t get proper medical care.

The lawyer said all barracks of under-trial prisoners, convicted prisoners, condemned prisoners and even those convicted by the anti-terrorist courts had an access to PCO to speak to family members and lawyers but the people convicted by military courts had been deprived of that facility.

A high court bench headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had accepted 75 and 198 writ petitions against convictions and sentences, mostly death penalties, by military courts on Oct 18, 2018, and June 16, 2020, respectively.

The Supreme Court had suspended those high court judgments over the appeals filed by the government. The main appeals have been pending with the apex court.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020