ISLAMABAD : The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday ordered fresh medical examinations of two mentally ill prisoners on death row and asked the amici curiae to submit their expert opinion on mental illnesses and national and international jurisprudence. Hearing the petitions of three mentally ill on death row, a larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik constituted a medical board of renowned mental health experts of the country to evaluate Kanizan Bibi and Ghulam Abbas. The board has been asked to submit the report in three weeks. Prisoner Imdad Ali’s review petition was accepted in the earlier hearing. The hearing was adjourned till October 19. The medical board includes: Prof. Dr. Rizwan Taj (Chairman) — Head of Psychiatry, PIMS, Islamabad; Prof. Dr. Altaf Qadir Khan — (Head of Psychiatry, Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Lahore); Prof. Dr. Ali Madeeh Hashmi — (Professor of Psychiatry, King Edward Medical University, Lahore); Prof. Dr. Saima Dawood Khan — (Professor of Psychology, University of Punjab, Lahore); and Prof. Dr. Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan — (Professor, University of Peshawar, Peshawar). The court also asked both amici curiae to apprise the court of their expert opinion in the context of Section 84 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and Sections 464 and 465 of the Criminal Procedure Code at the next hearing. Renowned psychiatrist and professor Dr. Mowadat Hussain Rana has been directed to assist the court on the types of mental disorders and the accuracy of detecting mental illnesses at a later stage after the trial. Advocate Haider Rasul Mirza’s expert opinion has been sought on interpreting domestic laws dealing with soundness of mind of the accused in line with scientific developments and international jurisprudence on the status of mental illnesses developed in jail after conviction.
Pakistan’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention Against Torture (CAT) prevent it from executing mentally ill prisoners. Spokesperson for Justice Project Pakistan, Ali Haider Habib, adds: “Mentally ill inmates are one of the most vulnerable classes of prisoners. Kanizan Bibi and Imdad Ali along with many others have suffered for far too long in a criminal justice system that has failed to protect them. The 100th prisoner executed by Pakistan since 2014 was one Munir Hussain, a severely mentally ill prisoner who, according to his family, had no recollection of his life before arrest or of his family members during his hanging. The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to set a precedent to ensure that no mentally ill person is executed unlawfully.” NNI