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LHC seeks report about inmates rotting in jails for non-payment of fines

A view of building of Lahore High Court. Image:

Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday sought a comprehensive report from the Punjab government about non-release of inmates due to non-payment of fines on completion of their sentences.

Advocate Saddem Sarwar has approached the LHC seeking the release of convicts rotting in jails for non-payment of fines.

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The lawyer contended that there were many poor prisoners in the jails whose sentences had been completed but they were not being released due to non-payment of fines.

He argued that the Supreme Court had in 2007 directed the federal government to frame rules under section 338-G of Pakistan Penal Code to provide mechanism for creating funds for the purpose of making payment of fines of the deserving convicts.

He said that the government later introduced “The Diyat, Arsh and Daman Fund Rules 2007”, however, the authorities failed to implement the same in letter and spirit.

The petitioner contended that the convicts languishing in jails were being denied of their fundamental rights. He said non-release of convicts despite completion of sentence was in fact a sheer failure of the state machinery.

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The petitioner pointed out that 78 inmates were lodged in Punjab jails for non-payment of fines and some senior inmates were also incarcerated. He said the government was bound to abide by the court’s decision to pay the fine. Therefore, the government should be ordered to pay the fines of the poor prisoners.

He also asked the court to summon the record of such convicts and those whose cases could not be decided so far.

After hearing preliminary arguments, Justice Waqas Rauf Mirza issued notice to Punjab government and directed it furnish a report regarding inmates who had completed their sentence but were not released due to non-payment of fine like Diyat, Arsh and Daman.

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