A writ petition was filed in Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday which sought to extend the implementation of remission in prison sentences on the basis of educational qualification, acquired during prison term, to religious minority prisoners.
The petitioner, Kashif Masih, contended that the Constitution of Pakistan protects the life of every citizen under Article 25, adding that Article 10-A provides citizens with the right to a fair trial, while Article 20 guarantees citizens the right to profess, propagate and practice their own religion.
Thus, on the basis of constitutional rights, the petitioner contended that Rule 215 of the Prisons Rule 1978 provides remission in prison sentences through education only for Muslims, including reduced sentences for those Muslims who complete the Holy Quran.
Masih argued that this policy does not extend to prisoners from religious minorities, and thus is in obstruction of their constitutional and legal rights.
â€œAccording to relevant rules, religious minority prisoners are entitled to education remission on the completion of formal education and especially on memorization or completion of their sacred book such as the Vedas, Geeta, Upanishads, Pali Canon, Holy Bible,Â Granth Sahib, Torah and Zaburâ€, the petitioner argued.
Masih further contended that according to the Prisons Department of Punjab, there are 1,188 prisoners within the province who belong to Christian, Hindu, and Sikh communities and none of them has been granted remission so far.
Read: Remission for education
â€œThe act of respondents, including the Secretary Law Department, Secretary Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department, Ministry of Prison Punjab and Inspector General Prisons, is in violation of Articles 9, 14, 20, 22, 25 and Article 36 of the Constitution and No. VII of table IV of Rules 215 of the Pakistan Prisons Rules 1978,”Â Â Masih added.
He further implored the court to treat all citizens equally, to preserve the dignity of human life and honour liberty, as envisaged in the Constitution.
Masih beseeched the court to direct the respondents and ensure that the aforementioned articles for provision of equal rights of education remission to minority prisoners are granted on the memorization and completion of their sacred books.
LHC’s Justice Rasaal Hasan Syed has sought a reply from Inspector General Prisons within two weeks.