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Wednesday, May 22, 2024  
14 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

PM Shehbaz says public interest defines purpose of suo motu

Wonders what measures court took for release of thousands of prisoners
We have to come together in best interest of Pakistan: PM Shehbaz Sharif - Aaj News

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the basic purpose of suo motu powers, bestowed with the Supreme Court, lies in the public interest.

“I think the suo motu was for these purposes… where there is public interest. Rest there cannot be any other purpose of the suo motu. Neither the Constitution nor law allows it,” he told reporters after visiting Lahore’s Central Jail, known as Kot Lakhpat Jail, on Saturday. He visited the jail on the first day of Eid.

The government enacted a law clipping the powers of the chief justice of Pakistan this week. A three-member bench consisting of the chief justice and the two senior-most judges of the apex court will decide whether to take up a matter suo motu, according to the legislation. Earlier, it was solely the prerogative of the chief justice.

The development was aimed at reviewing Article 184(3) of the Constitution which became the topic of discussion after the top court took suo motu over delay in the Punjab and KP elections.

Article 184(3) of the Constitution enables the SC to assume jurisdiction in matters involving a question of “public importance” with reference to the “enforcement of any of the fundamental rights” of Pakistan’s citizens.

PM Shehbaz’s comments were made in the context of thousands of prisoners languishing in jails. The standard period of a life sentence is around 25 to 30 years. The premier lamented that there was no one to help those who have been in jail for more than the standard time.

The prime minister questioned how many times the courts took suo motu notice of the issues pertaining to prisons and their inmates.

“Did you ask jail officials how many prisoners they have because the basic purpose of a suo motu notice is the public interest — not an individual’s? How many suo motus were taken for these works where justice can be served to prisoners,” he said.

The premier went on to add that as many as 4,000 prisoners were in Lahore jail, 50,000 in Punjab, and thousands in the whole country. He added that there were many inmates who could be released “immediately” as per the law.

He claimed that the people were asking him and other institutions about the performance of the court for the release of prisoners. “I think suo motu is for these where there is public interest.”

Hospitals in jails

PM Shehbaz ordered the Punjab authorities to chalk out a plan to establish dedicated hospitals in jails for the medical treatment of the prisoners and provide quality sanitation services.

He directed the Punjab chief secretary to ready the plan for a dedicated hospital in the jail “within a week”. If succeeded, the project would be expanded across the country, he added.

The premier lamented that the denial of medical and sanitation facilities for prisoners was sheer injustice. He expressed his concerns over the “pathetic” condition of toilets in almost all jails which he said needed to be improved as improper sanitation and toilet facilities would beget diseases.

He also called for operationalisation of the basic health equipment available in the jail and instructed that the treatment process should be made easy and transparent.

The prime minister also instructed providing vocational training to the prisoners to make them productive citizens and enable them to earn livelihood after their release.

He stressed the need for measures for the facilitation of those languishing in jails just for lacking money even after completing their sentences. He urged the superior judiciary to take notice of the situation to address the miseries of the suffering prisoners.

He said by putting aside personal interests and through collective actions and wisdom, the country could overcome the pervading challenges.

(With input from APP)

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Shehbaz Sharif

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Punjab Elections