KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly deliberated and passed on Tuesday a resolution to release inmates on “payroll” in the case of the death of a relative so they may attend the funeral. What the resolution, moved by MQM-P MPA Mangla Sharma, calls for is to allow inmates to be released on “parole” if they wish to attend the funeral of a close relative.
Throughout the debate, in which several lawmakers partook, no one seemed to distinguish between the homonyms and the Assembly passed the resolution in the end to allow “prisoners imprisoned in jails be released on ‘semi-payroll’ at the death of their relatives to attend the funeral on humanity ground.” Some lawmakers even suggested that the resolution be amended to allow inmates to visit their ailing relatives.
A bureaucrat-turned-politician, Javed Hanif, who belongs to the MQM-P, spoke about the dilapidated condition of the Karachi Central Jail and informed the House about the sorry state of prisoners.
A teary-eyed Hanif, who is facing corruption cases and is under the custody of the National Accountability Bureau, had come to attend the session from the Karachi Central Jail. “Many under-trial prisoners have spent their lives without bail.” He demanded to bring drastic reforms in the prisons system.
Another imprisoned MPA, Sharjeel Inam Memon supported the resolution. “There is a lengthy process for granting permission to prisoners to attend funerals of their family members,” he said, adding that the permission is given by the Home department, which is not possible in holidays.
“I suggest empowering jail superintendents who can receive the application and make the decision at a local level,’ he said.
Khulsoom Chandio of PPP referred to the death of the father of PPP leader, Pir Mahzar, who was not allowed to attend the funeral. She suggested giving two days’ permission to inmates for the cause.
Prisons minister Nasir Shah said that the Sindh government had drafted a comprehensive law on jails reforms, which would cover this issue too. “We will repeal the colonial law and bring a new one, incorporating this proposal in it,” he said. After the debate on the resolution, the speaker adjourned the session till today [Wednesday].
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2019.