Citing a judgment by India’s Supreme Court, Pakistan’s apex court has ruled that schizophrenia is not a “permanent” mental disorder so it cannot be a ground for halting a death penalty. A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, made the ruling on Thursday while upholding a decision of the high court in which it had rejected a plea to delay the hanging of a murder convict, Imdad Ali, who is suffering from schizophrenia.
“In our opinion, rules relating to mental sickness are not subjugative to delay the execution of death sentence which has been awarded to the convict,” the Supreme Court said in its 11-page judgment.
“Schizophrenia is not a permanent mental disorder; rather it is an imbalance which can increase or decrease depending on the level of stress,” it said.
The court termed it as a “recoverable disease”, not falling in the definition of “mental disorder” as defined in the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.
Pakistan’s apex court cited the judgment of India’s Supreme Court in 1976 case of Amrit Bhishan Gupta vs the Union of India in which the court had rejected a petition to stop execution of a man suffering from schizophrenia.
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Ali, suffering from schizophrenia, was to be executed on July 26 but his wife filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court to delay her husband’s hanging till the recovery of his mental illness.
The high court rejected her plea on August 23, forcing the wife to approach the Supreme Court.
Ali from Burewala area of Punjab was convicted in 2002 in a murder case and his appeals were already rejected and he faced execution.