ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmad has taken a strict view on the release of prisoners amidst the coronavirus outbreak, stating that whatever measures are taken in Pakistan in this regard will be taken according to the law.
The CJP made these remarks while hearing a petition against the release of under-trial prisoners on the orders of high courts.
The CJP is chairing a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court that is hearing arguments on the matter.
“Under what law can suspects and accused be released?” the CJP asked while hearing arguments. He noted that it was already very difficult to arrest the accused in cases.
“The police are already busy with the coronavirus emergency. How can we let criminals be out on the roads as well?” he asked. He said robberies have already started taking place in Karachi soon after the release of prisoners.
“Karachi’s Defence area is under the control of robbers,” the top judge said. “Thieves are emptying houses under the pretext of checking for coronavirus patients,” remarked the top judge, recounting an incident.
“Ever since the [Sindh] high court has issued bail [for prisoners], crimes have increased,” the judge stated.
He added that any decision to release prisoners should be taken after looking at the facts on the ground.
The judge remarked that due to the coronavirus, the businesses of the corrupt have also been affected. He noted that those accused of corruption have also been released by the courts.
To this, the attorney general interjected to say he would not like to comment on the problems in Sindh.
However, the CJP persisted, saying that if the corrupt do not get a chance to do their corruption, they too will start resorting to crime.
“Coronavirus will not go away by emptying the jails. The law is present for taking care of prisoners,” remarked Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah added that the law says that prisoners affected by COVID-19 should be kept under quarantine.