SC suspends HCs orders on release of under-trial prisoners


ISLAMABAD Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday suspended all orders given by different high and district courts of the country on the release of under trial prisoners over coronavirus fears. The five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed while hearing a petition put on hold the release of under trial prisoners from jails across Pakistan and questioned how these courts could take suo motu action in these cases as they did not have the powers to do so. The apex court barred high courts and the provincial governments from passing any order regarding release of prisoners and also issued notices to all advocate generals and Prosecutor General and National Accountability Bureau to appear before the court on Wednesday. The Islamabad High Court on March 20 had ordered release of under-trial prisoners falling in the IHC jurisdiction and detained in Rawalpindi’s overcrowded Adiala jail in minor crimes. The court had directed the Islamabad police not to make arrest in petty matters. In Monday’s proceedings, the additional attorney general submitted before the bench that the high courts were giving different rulings regarding the release of prisoners. He asked the SC to decide the matter. The CJP questioned how the high courts could have ordered the release of under-trial prisoners. “Coronavirus is a grave matter but how under its pretence the IHC could issue the directives for releasing the prisoners?” asked the chief justice.“How can a high court take suo motu notice in this regard?” the CJP asked adding those involved in petty crimes were ordered to be released, but the IHC went one step forward and ordered release of all prisoners except those charged with terrorism, he said.

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