Life in prison?


It is a stupendous tale straight out of the theatre of the absurd. Unfortunately, it is atrocious too that a convict sentenced to life imprisonment led a life of comfort in prison and hospital. He has reportedly been caught twice living in the lap of luxury both inside the prison and at a hospital. First time, in 2019, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan saw the convict Shahrukh Jatoi living in the Landhi Jail in Karachi with the provision of a fridge, air-conditioner and other articles of comfort. He had ordered the prisoner’s shifting to the jail. Recently the media reported that the convict had been found living lavishly on the upper floor of a private hospital in Karachi while he was supposed to be serving out his sentence in the Karachi Central Jail. He is now back in prison. He was presumably transferred to the hospital on medical grounds. He is said to have been living in the hospital for the past several months.

Under the Jail (Amendment) Act of 2019, a competent authority can order the shifting of a prison inmate to hospital on grounds of health in consultation with the home department. A medical board is constituted to examine the prisoner and recommend his transfer to hospital depending on the inmate’s condition. It remains a mystery how the convict was provided with modern appliances in jail and hospital that are available in affluent homes. The issue needs an in-depth and exhaustive probe to arrive at a final conclusion. The circumstances surrounding the prisoner’s shifting to a private hospital and his enjoying a cozy atmosphere there need to be looked into. As for prisoners’ hospitalisation, the law says they can be shifted only to government hospitals.

The convict in question murdered a youth named Shahzeb Khan in December 2012. He was awarded death sentence by an anti-terrorism court in 2013. In 2018, the Sindh High Court converted the death sentence to life imprisonment. It should also be inquired how much time the convict has spent in hospital after his conviction in the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2022.

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