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Islamabad HC orders release of under-trial prisoners

Islamabad, March 21 (IANS) Amid an imminent threat of spread of the novel coronavirus, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the release of under-trial prisoners (UTPs) detained in Rawalpindis overcrowded Adiala jail in minor crimes and directed the police not to make arrest in petty matters.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directives on Friday while taking up a petition based on a report of the high court’s judicial branch on Islamabad-based UTPs, reports Dawn news.

According to the report, the authorised occupancy of the Central Prison Adiala, Rawalpindi, is 2,174 while the number of its present inmates is 5,001.

The number of under-trial prisoners whose cases are pending before courts under the jurisdiction of this high court is 1,362.

Most of the incarcerated UTPs were alleged to have committed offences which fall within the ambit of non-prohibitory clause.

Subsequently, the court summoned the Islamabad deputy commissioner, officials of the health ministry and Islamabad police.

They stated that pursuant to declaration of “Public Emergency of Interna­tional Concern” by the World Health Organisation regarding challenges posed by the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the Pakistan government had formulated a comprehensive national action plan.

The court observed that the prisoners were vulnerable and exposed to suffer irreparably in case of an outbreak.

Prisons, which were overcrowded, had high turnover and intolerable living conditions, could potentially become epicentre for outbreak of the deadly virus, it added.

The court ordered the release of entitled UTPs by March 24.




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