24 suspects in NAB references ordered to be released

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has issued release orders for 24 under-trial suspects in NAB references.

The references were filed on grounds offences including corruption, fake bank accounts, rental power case, etc. The order has been issued in the wake of nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed a high number of deaths globally and is growing exponentially within the country. National Accountability Bureau has contested the decision asking the court to allow the suspects screening for coronavirus infection.

Justic Athar Minallah who was hearing the case asked the prosecutor, “Why do you want to keep under-trial suspects in detention? What if the virus spreads to other prisoners while the test results are awaited? Who will be responsible?” Under trial suspects are considered innocent until the trial has concluded.”

He advised the prosecution to build up solid cases against suspects and provide evidence in court.

He remarked that the maximum penalty in such cases is not death penalty but a 14 year sentence and sadly the courts are engaged in work that the executive should be doing. Following these remarks, Justice Minallah passed the order for release of 24 prisoners.

Justice Minallah has expressed his concern that coronavirus spread faster after it spread in prisons in China. He said that prisons in Pakistan were in dire straits and if (God forbid) any prisoner becomes infected, the situation would get out of control. Earlier this week, he had also ordered release of prisoners from Adiala Jail who were booked under minor crimes.