Govt responsible for prisoners’ medical treatment: IHC

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STAFF REPORT

ISLAMABAD

Providing medical treatment to jail inmates is responsibility of the government, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court (IHC) remarked while hearing a petition of Adiala Jail prisoner for treatment on Saturday.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah hearing a petition observed,” The state has lesser responsibility when a person is free, but when a person is imprisoned the state have maximum responsibility to extend medical treatment without any delay.”

A death-row convict, Khadim Hussain had wrote a letter to IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah who had converted it into a constitutional petition and sought a reply in this regard from the authorities concerned.

A representative of the Ministry of Human Rights appeared in the court hearing Saturday. “Your representatives would be monitoring human rights issues (in jails),” chief justice addressing ministry’s official said.

The jail administration has been asked for detailed medical checkup of the prisoners, the official replied. “It is responsibility of the state if a person is in custody of the state,” the bench remarked. “A prisoner remains totally dependent on the state.

“If a prisoner dies do you conduct an inquiry,” the bench asked the official. “Yes, an inquiry conducted when someone dies in prison,” the official replied. “If any inquiry commission held the government responsible for a death,” the bench asked. “A commission didn’t held responsible to anyone,” the official said.

“Then what kind of inquiry conducted by your commission,” the court questioned. “Influential persons get facilities, while the poor even deprived of basic facilities in a prison,” the bench observed.

“Laws exist, only enforcement is needed,” the court remarked. The laws grant the state authority to release an ailing prisoner and the state could commute the sentence of anyone according to rules,” Justice Athar Minallah said.

“The state should work but it is not doing so,” the top judge remarked. “If a prisoner is knocking the door of the court, it means the state is negligent of its responsibility,” Justice Minallah further remarked.

The petitions from jail will now be directed towards the commission, the judge said. The bench adjourned further hearing of the case till January 18.

In an earlier hearing, Justice Minallah ordered the federal government to submit a report on the prisoners in jails of all provinces.

The court had also formed a commission headed by Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, to inquire into human rights violations in jails.