Islamabad HC declares overcrowding in jails unconstitutional

Islamabad High Court.

Islamabad, (Asian independent) The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has declared that overcrowding in jails was unconstitutional and ruled that a prisoner can sue the government and prison authorities for inhumane treatment during incarceration, it was reported on Monday.

The court on Sunday issued directives to the federal government and Islamabad’s commissioner for observance of provisions in jail manual as well as in the international conventions and treaties related to the well-being of inmates, Dawn news reported.

The 38-page verdict authored by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah pointed out alarming conditions of prisoners, loopholes in the criminal justice system and how prisoners were subjected to inhumane treatment.

“The intolerable and shockingly inhumane and degrading treatment highlighted in the proceedings in hand meets the threshold of the hypothetical illustration in the above judgement,” the court observed.

“It is, therefore, obvious that the incarcerated prisoners, subjected to the unimaginable degrading and inhumane treatment highlighted in these proceedings, may have become entitled to seek damages against the prison authorities and the state.”

The order was issued on the petitions filed by inmates of the Central Jail Rawalpindi, said the Dawn news report.

The inmates claimed that they could not access the courts and feared being punished by the prison authorities for attempting to draw court attention towards their plight.

The country’s overall prison population was currently 73,721 while the authorized capacity of all the jails in Pakistan is 55,634 inmates.

In Punjab, 29 out of 41 prisons were found overcrowded while in Sindh eight jails were reportedly overcrowded.

Out of 73,721 prisoners across the country, more than 60 per cent have not been convicted by any court.

A large number of prisoners are suffering from serious illnesses such as HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis and mental diseases.