Schizophrenic convict wins temporary reprieve

Published: November 1, 2016
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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court temporarily stayed on Monday the execution of a paranoid schizophrenic murder convict, Imdad Ali, who was scheduled to be hanged on November 2.

A three-judge bench of the apex court – headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali – took up a review petition filed by Safia Bano, the wife of the convict, against its September 27 order, which ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as a mental disorder under the mental health laws, clearing the way for his execution.

“Notice of this review petition be issued to Punjab’s advocate general and prosecutor general for a date in the second week of November this year. Till then, the execution of black-warrant against convict Imdad Ali, son of Muhammad Ismail, is stayed,” the bench stated in the fresh order.

Meanwhile, despite the pendency of his review petition, the Punjab prison department obtained the death warrant of Imdad Ali.

A sessions court in Vehari issued the death warrant for Ali, 50, who was sentenced to death in 2001 over a deadly shooting. He has spent 14 years on death row, with three years in solitary confinement in the jail hospital because of his paranoid schizophrenic condition. He was diagnosed in 2013.

Ali’s 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.

Last week, Safia moved a review petition against the dismissal of his petition. The review petition said the Suprme Court had relied on an Indian court judgment, which was not applicable in Ali’s case, adding that the Indian court had sought to determine whether or not 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’,” the petition stated.

According to the petition, schizophrenia is known to be the result of structural and biochemical changes in brain and classified as a chronic and permanent mental disorder.

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

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2016.

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