KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday ordered the inspector general of prisons in Sindh to immediately shift convicts and under-trial prisoners (UTPs) – including Shahzeb Khan murder accused Shahrukh Jatoi, Pakistan Peoples Party leader Sharjeel Inam Memon and Midas Group CEO Inam Akbar – back to jail from hospitals where they were admitted on one pretext or the other.
A three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was hearing suo motu cases at the top court’s Karachi registry regarding shifting of Jatoi and Memon to private hospitals outside the jail.
Jatoi is on death row for murdering Shahzeb Khan in December 2012 while Memon faces corruption charges.
At the outset, the chief justice came down hard on IG prisons Sindh Nusrat Mangan for shifting Jatoi and Memon.
Mangan read out a medical examination report, stating that Jatoi was shifted from prison to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on complaints of chest pain. The doctors, who examined him inside the prison, had also diagnosed heart-related issues and low blood pressure.
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Chief Justice Nisar brushed aside his explanation, saying the convict complained about chest pain, but the medical examination report showed he suffered from piles.
He expressed extreme displeasure over the absence of Dr Shahid Rasool of the JPMC, who had recommended Jatoi be admitted to a hospital outside the jail. The doctor was contacted at 7pm on Friday to appear before the court.
The chief justice inquired of Mangan that when there was no case of surgery then on whose recommendation the convict had been admitted to the hospital for two weeks. Mangan said Jatoi was shifted back to prison on Friday night.
Justice Nisar asked on whose orders he was discharged from the hospital and sent back to jail. “Separate laws for the poor and the rich will not be tolerated,” he added.
To a query, Mangan replied that Jatoi was kept in ‘C’ class in the jail as his warrant described him as an ordinary ‘prisoner’.
The visibly irked chief justice asked Mangan when he was appointed as IG prisons as he was not aware of the fact that Jatoi was on death row and had to be kept in a death cell. He told the officer that the convict had spent most of his time in confinement outside the prison in a hospital.
He warned that he would proceed against him for contempt of court over non-appearance of Dr Rasool despite clear directives from the court. The IG said that Dr Rasool was an assistant of JPMC Executive Director Seemin Jamali.
Sensing the court’s mood, the IG immediately tendered an unconditional apology verbally and begged for mercy.
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The chief justice said no more unconditional apologies would be accepted as the Supreme Court would from now onwards not accept an apology from anyone but would rather take action under contempt of court.
Justice Nisar inquired whether PPP leader Memon, who was sent to jail in cases of corruption after cancellation of his pre-arrest bail by the Sindh High Court, was admitted to the JPMC on the recommendation of any doctor.
He noted that Memon was lodged in jail on October 24, 2017 but was shifted to hospital after only two days.
Mangan said that the relevant accountability court had ordered constitution of a medical board to examine the under-trial PPP leader.
The chief justice told him that the trial court had clearly mentioned in its order that the accused should be treated for his ailment inside the prison, but who authorised the IG prisons to shift him to hospital.
Coming down hard on his conduct, the chief justice told Mangan that he would definitely be proceeded against for contempt of court.
As Mangan once again offered his unconditional apology, saying he was at the mercy of the court, the bench directed him to submit his apology in writing.
In view of the conduct of provincial authorities, the chief justice appointed senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqui as amicus curiae to assist the court on whether the top court could order shifting Memon and the trial against him to the Punjab province.
In the meanwhile, the court ordered IG Mangan to ensure that all prisoners and UTPs were shifted back to jails from hospitals across the province. He was told to submit a compliance report by Sunday (today).