Schizophrenic convict’s spouse seeks early plea review

Published: October 29, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The wife of a schizophrenic convict has asked the Supreme Court to decide her review petition before her husband is to be executed on November 2.

On Friday, Safia Bano, spouse of 50-year-old Imdad Ali, filed an application for the hearing of her husband’s case on October 31.

“End of justice demand that (the) stay for death execution may kindly be heard on (an) urgent basis on October 31, because if the application is not heard on (the) same day, the petition would become infructuous and the husband of the petitioner would be hanged early in the morning on November 2,” she said in her application.

Death warrant issued for schizophrenia prisoner Imdad Ali

However, despite the pendency of a review petition, a sessions court in Vehari issued on Wednesday the death warrant for Ali who was sentenced to death for the murder of a religious cleric in 2002.

He has spent 14 years on death row, with three years in solitary confinement in a jail hospital due to paranoid schizophrenia, a seriously debilitating mental illness which he was diagnosed with in 2013. Ali’s most recent medical reports in September and October described him as actively suffering from psychotic symptoms and a psychiatrist at the prison deemed him a treatment-resistant case.

The Supreme Court — in its 11-page judgment on October 20 — held that a psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia does not subjugate the death sentence.

On Wednesday, Bano moved a review petition through her counsel Syed Iqbal Hussain Shah Gilani against the dismissal of his petition.

The review petition said the Supreme Court had relied upon India’s Supreme Court judgment, which was not applicable in Ali’s case, adding the Indian top court sought to address as to whether a convict was suffering from any mental disorder. “But, in this matter, the question is whether or not schizophrenia falls within the definition of ‘mental disorder’,” it said.

The petition said schizophrenia is known to be a result of structural and biochemical changes in brain and it is classified as a chronic and permanent mental disorder.

“Indeed, the petitioner’s husband jail medical record reflects that he has consistently displayed symptoms of schizophrenia; is not showing signs of improvement; and has active psychotic symptoms,” said the review petition.

Schizophrenia and our Supreme Court

In order to prevent a serious prejudice and violation of fundamental rights, the mandatory provisions of Chapter 18 and Rule 362 of the Pakistan Prison Rules must be enforced in the case of an established criminal mental patient such as the petitioner’s husband in accordance with law.

Meanwhile, the federal ministry of human rights has also sent a letter, advising the interior ministry’s secretary to stay the execution of Ali on humanitarian grounds.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2016.

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