KARACHI: Thousands of prisoners in jails across Sindh will be deprived of any relief in their sentences on Eidul Fitr as the government failed to announce its traditional special remissions.
Jail officials confirmed to The Express Tribune that neither President Mamnoon Hussain nor Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah have issued any such remission orders this year. Remission, the reduction in the sentences of prisoners, has been a tradition followed by the president every year. Remission orders are also passed on the occasions of Eid Miladun Nabi, Independence Day, Pakistan Day among others.
However, no such order has been passed this year, the Karachi Central Jail superintendent, Kazi Nazeer Ahmed, told The Express Tribune. "So far, we have received no order for reduction in sentences of inmates," he said. The Karachi jail is home to over 5,500 inmates.
The authorities in other jails of the province, including Sukkur and Larkana, also have not received such orders.
According to the jail officials, the failure to pass remission orders is a result of simple negligence and indifference on the part of the authorities. "Both the chief minister and the president seem to be too busy with their routines to announce sentence reductions for the prisoners," said one jail official, requesting anonymity. "It is surprising for us that no order came this year and they forgot the plight of the inmates."
The remission in sentences can be granted by the president under Article 45 of the Constitution while the chief minister of a province can also provide some relief to the prisoners under section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Remission is offered to prisoners convicted in minor offences and is not offered to under-trial prisoners.
According to jail officials, with the reduction in sentences, around 10 to 15 prisoners were able to walk free and spend Eid with their families in previous years.
Last year, the then President Asif Ali Zardari had announced a special remission of 90 days for life imprisonment prisoners except those convicted for heinous crimes, such as murder, spying, terrorism, adultery, robbery and abduction. Last year, a special remission for female inmates with children was provided except to the ones charged with heinous crimes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.