Christian prisoner moves PHC for release from ‘illegal’ detention

Published January 7, 2021
A member of the Christian minority kept in the Peshawar Central Prison on Wednesday moved the high court seeking his release from the prolonged ‘illegal’ detention. — APP/File
A member of the Christian minority kept in the Peshawar Central Prison on Wednesday moved the high court seeking his release from the prolonged ‘illegal’ detention. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: A member of the Christian minority kept in the Peshawar Central Prison on Wednesday moved the high court seeking his release from the prolonged ‘illegal’ detention.

In the petition, Shakeel Masih claimed that he had been imprisoned for around 10 years without trial, while the records of his alleged crime and detention had been missing from the documents of the relevant court in Khyber tribal district.

He requested the court to declare his detention illegal, unconstitutional and against his basic rights.

Shakeel Masih alleged that the trial court without assigning any reason had been extending his judicial remand after every 14 days for keeping him behind bars.

Claims he has been kept in Peshawar jail for a decade without trial

He requested the court to declare the trial court’s arbitrary orders by granting judicial custody without recording any reason as against the basic principles of criminal justice.

The petitioner sought his release claiming nothing is available on record to prove his involvement in the killing of military officials in Khyber region more than a decade ago.

The petition was filed by lawyer Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel known for public interest litigations.

The respondents in the petition are the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through advocate general, provincial inspector general of prisons, interior secretary, Khyber district public prosecutor, district and sessions judge of Khyber district, and Peshawar Central Prison’s superintendent.

The petitioner said that he was arrested around 10 years ago on the charge of killing some military officials in Khyber tribal region but no document to that effect, including FIR, was available on record.

He insisted that though there was no FIR or any incriminating evidence against him, he had been detained without any lawful justification.

The petitioner said that he hadn’t been provided with any document related to his case as required under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

He claimed that he had regularly been taken to the court’s premises for around a decade but the personnel brought him back to the prison without presenting before the relevant judge.

The petitioner wondered when records of his case were not available with the court, how it was possible for it to grant his judicial remand to keep him behind bars for an indefinite period.

He contended that when there was no evidence of his alleged involvement in killings or the records of his case were missing, the trial court should have either acquitted him or released him on bail until the relevant documents were available.

The petitioner said that the trial court had the powers to acquit an accused under Section 265-K of Code of Criminal Procedure when there was insufficient evidence against him or her and the complainant and witnesses hadn’t been appearing before it.

He claimed that he had been denied the fair trial opportunity, which was guaranteed in Article 10-A of the Constitution.

The petitioner said that he had been deprived of his liberty with no plausible reason, which was a violation of Article 9 of the Constitution.

Lawyer Saifullah Muhib told Dawn that first, his client’s father pursued his case but after he died a few years ago, there was no one to pursue it.

He said that as per the prisoner his family members were asked to stay mum over his case and they were afraid to come forward, hence he has been pursuing this case from the prison.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2021

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