‘A’-class prisoners

Farogh Naseem, the federal law minister stated a new rule would soon prohibit those involved in a very large corruption from claiming ‘A’-class status in prison. The fresh rule is considered to be a consequence of the wrath in the country against those who are accused of eating the millions that were presumed to be spent on the welfare of the people. Nevertheless the proposal that object to degrade specific ‘A’-class prisoners or person detained has obviously not been thoroughly studied. Mr Naseem and Ms Awan should know well that jails are a provincial subject. There is every possibility the federal government’s trial to bring in change by just modifying the National Accountability Ordinance is exposed to legal question. In this context this suggestion pertains to the opposition political parties possibly go to jail soon, considering the force of the present accountability battle. It is to be seen whether the legislation will be permitted to be embodied in the form an Ordinance, even though the absence of a Senate majority that it can only pass through that House with opposition approval. It is to be finally decided whether the restriction of ‘A’ Class and ‘B’ Class in jail is considered a sentence. The present accountability drive has witnessed a number of top-level prisoners like former President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi demanding that they be facilitated with high class comforts in jail. The recent shift has decided to removal provision of ‘A class’ jail facilities to these under-trial prisoners.
The government should not forget the innocent guilty when it deals with its political competitors. But it has decided to stop providing ‘A class’ facilities in jails to those facing charges of high level of corruption.
In this respect one may associate the announcement to the demands of former president Asif Zardari and PML-N leaders Maryam Nawaz and Rana Sanaullah regarding the delivery of specific services to them in jail and National Accountability Bureau detention. It should be well remembered that many other political leaders and very top businessmen are also in the detention of NAB on corruption charges. The government announcement is also in implementation of the prime minister’s desire to deprive Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif of air-conditioners and abolition of ‘A’ class for prisoners. NAB authorities can now arrest any person even at the stage of inquiry, and keep them behind bars for several months. It has been noticed that people arrested by NAB are kept on physical and judicial remands for several months and reference trials for years only to be later acquitted. Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa said that the process of accountability being pursued in the country at present is lopsided. The government should display ‘A’ class time limit in place of just removing prisoners of ‘A’ class facilities in jail.
The provincial governments have been equipped with broad powers under the prisons rules in categorizing prisoners in several classifications and providing or refusing them different facilities, but courts have more authority to regulate their exercise. A provincial government has huge prudence to exercise in favour of or against an esteemed prisoner, having political tendency. In a case in which there are differences between the convicting court and the district coordination officer as to the classification of any prisoner, the provincial government shall decide the class in which the prisoner shall be kept awaiting final decision of the government. No doubt courts have the power to grant relief to inmates keeping in view the reports of the medical boards and other circumstances, supported by evidence. Courts may categorize prisoners into A and B class awaiting final orders of the government. Class C will be classified by the trying courts. But such prisoners will have a right to apply for review to the government. Revision petitions will be forwarded to the jail superintendent, who will send them to the Inspector-General Prisons, for transmitting to the government.

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