Top Pakistani court bars execution of inmates with mental disorder

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LAHORE – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled out against the execution of inmates suffering from mental illness, observing that implementing death sentence does not meet standards of justice if convict was unable to understand the rationale behind the punishment.

A five-member bench headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik issued the order on the appeals filed on the behalf of mentally ill death-row convicts, Kanizan Bibi, Imdad Ali and Ghulam Abbas. The appeals were heart at SC’s Lahore Registry

The apex court commuted the death penalties of Kanizan Bibi and Imdad Ali to life imprisonment, besides issuing directives that a latest mercy petition be sent to the President of Pakistan on behalf of Ghulam Abbas.

It also ordered the Punjab government to shift the mentally-challenged accused from prison to the Punjab Institute of Mental Health, Lahore, for their treatment and rehabilitation.

The court also clarified in the judgment that not every mental disorder shall automatically exempt from the death sentence.

“This exemption will be applicable only in that case where a medical board, consisting of mental health professionals, certifies after a thorough examination and evaluation that the condemned prisoner no longer has higher mental functions to appreciate the rationale behind the sentence of death awarded to them,’” the judgment read.

The top court also directed the authorities to define the mental illness in order to differentiate from terms like insane and unsound mind.

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