ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday constituted a board for examination of mental condition of two prisoners on death row and directed the amici curiae to submit expert opinion on mental diseases.

A five-member special bench of the apex court headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik conducted hearing of the cases of four mentally ill prisoners on death row including Ghulam Abbas, Imdad Ali, Kanizan Bibi and Khizer Hayat. The petitions were filed by the relatives and the Justice Project Pakistan against the execution of death sentence.

The medical board comprised three psychiatrists and two psychologists. It included 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).

The board that would evaluate the mental condition of Kanizan Bibi and Ghulam Abbas has been asked to submit the report in three weeks.

The bench also asked both the 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.

The court asked the renowned psychiatrist and professor Dr. Mowadat Hussain Rana to assist the court on the types of mental disorders and the accuracy of detecting mental illnesses at a later stage after the trial. The bench also asked advocate Haider Rasul Mirza to give expert opinion on interpreting domestic laws dealing with soundness of mind of the accused in line with the 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.

The spokesperson for Justice Project Pakistan Ali Haider Habib said that mentally ill inmates are one of the most vulnerable classes of prisoners. He added that Kanizan Bibi and Imdad Ali along with many others have suffered for too long in a criminal justice system that has failed to protect them.

He said that 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.