PESHAWAR: Accepting a petition, the Peshawar High Court on Thursday ordered the provincial government and authorities of the Mardan Central Prison to provide medical care to the detainees, who were convicted by military courts and suffer from chronic diseases.

A bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz directed the authorities that if specialised treatment couldn’t be provided to the convicts inside jails, they should be shifted to the hospital.

It also directed the home department and prison authorities to allow visitation rights to those prisoners to meet their close family members after every fortnight.

The petition was jointly filed by 25 military court convicts kept in the Mardan jail, They had requested the court for ordering the provision of proper medical treatment for chronic diseases.

Sultan Murad and other convicts had prayed the court to issue those orders for them and others convicted by military courts to the respondents, including the home secretary and provincial inspector general of prisons.

Directs authorities to give prisoners visitation rights

They also requested the court to ask the IG (prisons) and Mardan jail superintendent to install a public call office in their barrack for their communication with families and lawyers under the supervision of the prison staff members.

Shabbir Hussain Gigyani, lawyer for petitioners, said his client suffered from different diseases, which were not treatable inside the prison. He added that the petitioners had not been shifted to hospitals due to security reasons.

The lawyer said one of the convicted prisoners, Naimalullah, had expired though his petition against sentence was still pending with the high court.

He added that the prisoner in question had broken a leg and an arm during confinement at an internment centrte but he was not provided with proper treatment.

Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah said the authorities had no objection to the provision of medical care to prisoners.

He added that prisoners had already been provided proper medical treatment inside the prison.

The superintendent of the Mardan Central Prison also appeared on the court’s notice and said medical treatment was provided to all prisoners.

He added that except those involved in militancy, all prisoners were given visitation rights and they could meet relatives inside the prison.

Advocate Shabbir Gigyani said he had submitted a list of the convicted prisoners and nature of their illness.

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

The lawyer said the prisoners convicted by military courts were later acquitted by the high court but they continued to be behind bars due to a stay order issued by the Supreme Court against acquittal.

He claimed that the records showed that dozens of prisoners convicted by military courts suffered from severe and chronic diseases but they were denied proper medical treatment on the pretext of security reasons.

The lawyer said the prison authorities had provided the PCO facility in all barracks of under-trial prisoners, convicted prisoners, condemned prisoners and even for those convicted by anti-terrorism courts to contact families and lawyers but it was denied to those convicted by military courts.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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