ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered District and Session Judges across the country to conduct inspection of jails on the recommendations prepared by the Federal Ombudsman regarding conditions of jails.

Granting two-week time to D&SJs, the top court directed to straightaway submit their reports with the Federal Ombudsman following which the ombudsman shall submit its report to it.

The SC also sought details of progress regarding establishment of a prison in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). 

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah took up the case regarding conditions of women in jails for hearing.

Hafiz Ihsan Khokhar, counsel representing federal ombudsman, apprised the bench regarding the recommendations formulated to upgrade the jails for prisoners.

According to the recommendations, the provincial governments should build jails in every district headquarters and the federal government in Islamabad. Every jail should have separate and independent portions for women and juvenile prisoners with sleeping space for every prisoner with adequate toilet and hygiene facilities.

It is further recommended that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) should allocate every jail to the nearby university or a major educational institution for providing free education to the prisoners, particularly women and children and impart skill training to them with the help of TEVTA and other skill training institutions.

Libraries should also be upgraded by the concerned universities. No fee should be charged from the prisoners intending to appear in examinations.

Computerisation of record of prisoners will help the district committees to monitor and ensure that prisoners are produced before the courts on due dates and released when their jail term is completed, the recommendations said.

Regarding visiting rights, it is further recommended that the kith and kin or family members of prisoners, particularly women and children, in jails should have right to once a week visit to jails on pre notified days.

Provincial governments should review and enhance the transportation and escorting facilities for prisoners to the premises of courts.

During the course of hearing, Additional Advocate General Punjab Asma Hamid objected the oversight by ombudsman on already constituted committees headed by D&SJs to ascertain the conditions; however, the objection was overruled by the bench. 

Punjab’s law officer informed the bench that there are more than 32 thousand prisoners adding 18 thousand prisoners are more than the current capacity in jails.

During the hearing, counsel for ombudsman suggested to focus on central jails.

The bench also asked as to what the progress is regarding construction of jail in ICT. He further observed that there is no jail in the capital city.

Additional Attorney General informed the bench that PC-1 of the project has been approved and the land has been acquired requesting the bench to grant the time for complete details.

The chief justice observed that the boundary wall of the site has shattered and people have taken away the bricks adding if the court has to do everything then what is the purpose of the executive.

Meanwhile in another case regarding Pakistani prisoners held in foreign jails in minor cases, the top court directed the interior ministry to inform the top court regarding timeframe of bringing back Pakistani prisoners.

Chief justice observed that people are suffering from problems abroad due to lethargy of the ministry. He said that the prisoners be brought back and they will serve their sentence in Pakistan. He further observed that the court shall determine if they can be granted pardon.

He further said that he is receiving most of the complaints from China. He further asked if there is any bilateral treaty with China.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Syed Nayyar Rizvi informed the bench that there is no treaty with China.

Rizvi further informed the bench that Pakistan has agreement on Transfer of Offender with five countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE, UK and Yemen.

He further apprised the top court that 87 persons are imprisoned in Sri Lanka, 83 in Thailand, 2,710 in UAE and 423 Pakistanis are imprisoned in UK while no one is imprisoned in Yemen.

Likewise, he informed the bench that Agreement on Transfer of Offender has been concluded and not ratified with three countries including Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan. He explained 69 Pakistanis are imprisoned in Turkey, 189 in Iran and 3 Pakistanis in Azerbaijan.