The Hyderabad Central prison authorities have been ordered to provide facilities to a convict, who is confined in the 'solitary death cell' since he was sentenced to death in 2002 for murdering Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl.
A division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) passed the order on Tuesday on the request of the wife of the convict, Ahmed Omer Sheikh. Sadia Rauf, the petitioner, had gone to the court against the provincial home secretary, IG prisons and superintendent of the Hyderabad Central Jail alleging that they have deprived her husband of basic facilities in violation of the laws.
She submitted that Sheikh is confined in the death cell in the prison since the anti-terrorism court convicted and sentenced him to death in 2002. There was only a short interval during 2004 when he was shifted to Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail and Karachi Central Jail. "His appeal against the conviction and sentence is pending before this court and awaits determination," her lawyer said.
"During the period of his confinement at the Hyderabad jail, the petitioner's husband is being given most inhumane treatment, which includes unabated solitary confinement and deprivation of all basic facilities which he is entitled to receive under the Pakistan Prison Rules or jail manual," he added.
The petitioner's father, Saeed Ahmed Sheikh has taken up the matter of unwarranted, illegal, inhumane and cruel treatment with the jail superintendent. "Rather than showing respect for the law and rules, on each occasion the jail superintendent has insisted that the petitioner's husband being sentenced to death is not entitled to any facilities," the lawyer claimed.
The petitioner said that the continued solitary confinement is having an adverse effect on his health but the jailer is determined to inflict torture on him by keeping him in solitary confinement and depriving him of other facilities.
The lawyer argued that in the light of the recent judgments rendered by the superior courts, the prisoners who have been awarded death by the trial courts, but their sentences has not been confirmed by the high court, are not to be treated as condemned prisoners and ought to be allowed facilities. The lawyer argued that endless confinement of the prisoner in the solitary cell and deprivation from all the facilities is a violation of the provisions of the Pakistan Prison Rules and the Jail Manuel as well as the articles 2-A, 4 and 13 of the Constitution.
Additional advocate-general Rafique Rajovri filed comments of the jail superintendent, who denied the allegations. The prisoner is availing all facilities of fresh air, walks, exercises, interview with his family and gossiping with other prisoners," the jailer claimed.
The petitioner's lawyer refuted the claim. "Be that as it may be," the judges remarked. "The concerned jail superintendent is directed to ensure that petitioner is provided all facilities under the Prison Rules including health facilities provided to other prisoners," the bench ordered before disposing of the petition.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2014.
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