ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday stayed the execution of a schizophrenic patient convicted in 2002 for murdering a cleric.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, heard the review petition of Safia Bano, the wife of schizophrenic patient, Imdad Ali.

The Supreme Court also issued notices to the attorney general, the Punjab advocate general and the prosecutor general, seeking their comments on the issue.

Bano had filed a review petition against the death sentence awarded to his husband.

The death sentence awarded to the schizophrenic man by a trial court had been upheld by the Multan Bench of the Lahore High Court.

During the court proceedings, the chief justice inquired if Imdad had been hanged. The counsel for Bano replied he was going to be executed on November 2. Upon that the chief justice stayed the execution.

Earlier, while dismissing the appeal, the apex court had held that a psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia could not stop the death sentence. “In our opinion, the rules relating to mental sickness do not allow to delay the execution of death sentence awarded to a convict,” the judges had noted.

Imdad, hailing from Burewala district of south Punjab, was awarded death sentence in 2002 in a murder case.

His sentence was upheld by all the courts, including the Supreme Court. The president had also rejected his mercy petition.

Despite the pendency of the review petition, a sessions court in Vehari on Wednesday issued black warrants for Imdad Ali, 50.

He has spent 14 years on death row, with three years in solitary confinement in jail hospital due to schizophrenia, a serious mental illness which was diagnosed in 2013.

Imdad’s most recent medical reports in September and October showed he was actively suffering from psychotic symptoms and a psychiatrist at the prison declared him a treatment-resistant case.

However, the top court last week ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as a mental disorder under the mental health laws, a verdict that cleared the way for his execution.

Bano last week filed the review petition against the judgment. The petition contended that the SC had relied upon an Indian court’s judgment which was not applicable to Imdad’s case, adding the Indian court sought to determine whether a convict was suffering from any mental disorder.

“But in this matter, the question is whether or not schizophrenia falls within the definition of mental disorder,” the petition said and added schizophrenia was known to be the result of structural and biochemical changes in brain and it was classified as a chronic and permanent mental disorder.

“Indeed, Imdad’s jail medical record reflects that he has consistently displayed symptoms of schizophrenia, is not showing signs of improvement and has active psychotic symptoms,” said the review petition.

It is further stated that in order to prevent a serious prejudice and violation of fundamental rights, the mandatory provisions of Chapter 18 and Rule 362 of the Pakistan Prison Rules must be enforced in the case of the petitioner’s husband in accordance with the law.

The case was adjourned till the second week of November.