ISLAMABAD             -         The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday directed Deputy Commissioner Islamabad and Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) to ensure that the Covid-19’s Standard Operating Procedures are strictly implemented in case of persons arrested and kept at the lock-ups of various police stations.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah issued these directions while hearing a petition of Abid Hassan Advocate who approached the court to draw its attention towards deplorable condition of BakhashiKhana (temporary lockup).

In this matter, the IHC bench also directed the DC Islamabad and Senior Superintendent of Police to prescribe a mechanism in order to ensure that the arrested prisoners are not unnecessarily paraded while shackled and handcuffed.

In his petition, the petitioner raised questions of public importance and highlighted the plight of arrested persons and the risk they are facing due to deplorable conditions of the temporary lockup and the lockups established in the police stations of Islamabad Capital Territory.

He also drew the attention of the court to the degrading treatment of prisoners who are produced before the courts. He asserted that without observing the Standard Operating Procedures prescribed to meet the challenges of COVID-19, the arrested prisoners are paraded while shackled and handcuffed together.

During the hearing, FarhatKazmi and Muhammad Farooq Superintendents of Police appeared and told the court that persons who are arrested have to be brought to the District Courts for their appearance before a Magistrate.

However, they assured that measures would be taken to observe and implement the Standard Operating Procedures in case of incarcerated persons.

The court noted in its order, “Pre-trial or under trial prisoners are presumed to be innocent until their guilt is proved before a competent court. It is the duty of the State through its representatives i.e. public functionaries, to treat the incarcerated persons in consonance with the constitutionally guaranteed rights, particularly under Articles 9 and 14.”

He added, “Even a convicted person cannot be treated in a degrading manner. The facts highlighted during today’s proceedings are disturbing. Keeping in view the importance of questions raised through the instant petition and the exposure of the incarcerated persons to harm, it is directed as follows: a) The Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad Capital Territory and FarhatKazimi, Superintendent of Police will meet the District Judge (West) today. They shall prescribe a mechanism in order to ensure that the arrested prisoners are not unnecessarily paraded while shackled and handcuffed.”

The court also directed that the DC and SSP (Operations), Islamabad and others to inspect the “Bakhshi Khana” (temporary lock-up) at District Courts and all the lockups of the police stations of ICT to assess the conditions having regard to the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution.

“A joint report shall be submitted on or before the next date of hearing. The Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad Capital Territory shall coordinate with the other members in order to ensure that the report is submitted within time,” ordered the IHC bench.

It further said that the DC and SSP (Operations) shall forthwith ensure that the COVID-19’s Standard Operating Procedures are strictly implemented in case of persons arrested and kept at the lockups of various police stations.

Later, the court deferred hearing till June 20 for further proceedings.