ISLAMABAD            -                A writ petition against the Islam­abad High Court judgment dated March 20 to release 400 under-tri­al prisoners from Adiala jail was filed before the Supreme Court on Friday.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulz­ar Ahmed would hear the appeal against IHC order regarding threat of coronavirus pandemic and over­crowding in Adiala Jail on March 30.

Petitioner Raja Muhammad Na­deem stated in his petition that 400 criminals/wrongdoers were released in an unprecedented and unconstitutional manner at the cost and expense of the constitu­tional right of a complainant in the respective FIRs.

He added that the IHC had sought a report from the Superintendent, Central Prison, Rawalpindi, re­garding the inmates whose cases are pending before the courts un­der jurisdiction of the Court; ac­cordingly a report was submitted.

The petitioner continued that Superintendent, Central Prison, Rawalpindi, had submitted a re­port in the IHC that the authorized occupancy of the Central Pris­on, Rawalpindi, is 2,174 while the number of its present inmates is 5,001. The number of under-trial prisoners whose cases are pend­ing before the courts under the jurisdiction of the High Court is 1,362. Majority of the incarcer­ated under trial prisoners are al­leged to have committed offences which fall within the ambit of the non-prohibitory clause; and sev­eral convicted prisoners are above the age of 55 years and some suf­fer from serious illnesses, which cannot be treated while incarcer­ated.

According to the petitioner, the IHC chief justice in chamber exer­cising suo moto jurisdiction con­verted the report into a petition under Section 561 A of the Crimi­nal Procedure Code on the ground that a national calamity has been declared by the federal govern­ment in the wake of coronavirus threat and that the situation in the overcrowded prisoners in the Adi­ala Jail is alarming.

He contended that the IHC is not vested with jurisdiction to exercise any suo moto powers, thus the im­pugned judgment and order dat­ed 20-03-2020 is illegal, without any jurisdiction and is liable to be set aside on this ground. The in­herent powers vested in the High Court, can only exercised in a sit­uation where no express statutory provision is available. The remedy under Section 561-A CrPC is not an alternate and substitute for an ex­press remedy as provided under the law.

The petitioner said that the judi­ciary on the other hand is entrust­ed with the task of interpreting the law and to play the role of an arbi­ter in cases of dispute between the individuals inter se and between individual and the State.

He stated that in the instant case the provincial government is em­powered under the Pakistan Pris­on Rules, 1978 read with Section 401 of CrPC to suspend the sen­tence. However, none of the pro­vincial government or Islamabad Capital Territory administration found it expedient to come for­ward and invoke the said provi­sions.

He maintained that the ambit and scope of High Court powers is not as wide as of the Supreme Court under Article 187 of Consti­tution to pass any order or to issue any direction or degrees for doing substantial justice.