Sept 27 verdict: Punjab challenges SC’s schizophrenia ruling

Published: November 9, 2016
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ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has challenged the Supreme Court’s judgment that psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia does not subjugate the death sentence.

The Punjab government through its additional advocate general has submitted a review petition against the SC’s Sep 27 verdict in the case of a death row convict Imdad Ali, who is suffering from schizophrenia.

The court had declared that schizophrenia is not a permanent mental disorder but an imbalance which can increase or decrease depending on the level of stress.

SC stays hanging of schizophrenic prisoner Imdad Ali

The review petition states that the top court has placed fetters on the definition of schizophrenia contrary to the universally accepted medical definition in terms of ‘mental disorder’ as envisaged by the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001 Punjab.

It says that across medical jurisprudence, paranoid schizophrenia is classified as a chronic and permanent mental disorder affecting cognitive functions and with poor prognosis.

“Indeed, the petitioner’s husband’s [Imdad’s] jail medical records reflect that he has consistently displayed symptoms of schizophrenia; is not showing signs of improvement and has active psychotic symptoms,” it said.

Death warrant issued for schizophrenia prisoner Imdad Ali

The petition says the top court in determining whether schizophrenia falls within the definition of ‘mental disorder’ has relied upon the Indian precedent and has not considered the circumstances for the purposes of the definition contained in [Punjab’s] Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.

It says precedent of the Indian Supreme Court is not applicable to the instant set of circumstances and not relevant to the Ordinance of 2001, adding that the paranoid schizophrenia cannot be excluded from the definition of ‘mental disorder’ as envisaged by the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.

The review petition states that the consideration of the Indian Supreme Court in 1977 is not applicable to the theological aspect of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the laws framed thereunder namely the Mental Health Ordinance and Pakistan Prison Rules.

“Islamic sharia prohibits execution of a mentally challenged prisoner. This view is endorsed by Islamic jurisprudent Allama Ibne Abideen in his celebrated work, Radd-al-Mukhtarala al-Dur al Mukhtar.

“In addition to the Islamic Jurisprudence, Pakistan’s international human rights obligations categorically prohibit execution of a mentally ill convict. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Pakistan is a signatory … establishes that executing mentally ill is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” it says.

The petition further states that medical report of Imdad Ali by the psychiatrist dated 20.11.2012 and the recent medical report of Dr Feroze dated 19.09.2016 confirms that he has ‘active psychotic symptoms’ such as ‘auditory hallucinations, bizarre ideations, paranoid delusions’ without any sign of recovery.

“That this has resulted in a grave miscarriage of justice which needs consideration of this Honourable Court mandated with doing complete justice and ensuring enforcement of Article 10-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973,” says the review petition.

Schizophrenic convict wins temporary reprieve

The top court on October 31 temporarily stayed the hanging of Imdad Ali, who was scheduled to be executed on November 2.  Hearing of the review petition of Imdad’s wife Safia Bano will be resumed in the second week of November.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2016.

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