The Supreme Court on Monday will hear an appeal for the suspension of death sentence of prisoner Khizar Hayat — set to be executed on Tuesday — on the grounds of mental illness.
The petition filed by Hayat's mother Iqbal Bano was fixed for hearing on on Saturday. A day earlier, a district and sessions judge scheduled the execution of Hayat — a mentally ill prisoner on death row — for January 15 at the central jail in Kot Lakhpat.
Hayat was sentenced to death in 2003 over the shooting of a fellow police officer. He has spent nearly 15 years on death row. He was first diagnosed as a schizophrenic in 2008 by jail medical authorities. In 2010, the jail medical officer recommended that Hayat needed specialised treatment and should be shifted to the psychiatric facility. However, this was never done.
In 2017, the Lahore High Court had stayed the execution of Hayat.
On Monday, a two-member bench comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Sardar Tariq Masoof will hear the case.
A request was also submitted in the court's human rights cell on Saturday which was reviewed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. The petition called for the Supreme Court's attention to the fact that a mentally ill prisoner was being sentenced to death. Hayat's mother, in a letter, requested the chief justice to visit Kot Lakhpat jail's ward for mentally ill prisoners and investigate what medicines were being given to her son.
She pleaded that his medical records be investigated "to determine why his treatment was not being done properly and why his condition was worsening day by day".
"I read in newspaper that a prisoner named Khizar Hayat has been sentenced to be hanged," the chief justice remarked, inquiring from the Punjab attorney general which jail Hayat was serving his sentence in. The official replied it was Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.
Justice Nisar asked that it be immediately ascertained if Hayat has been diagnosed as mentally ill and sought a report today.
Meanwhile, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which has been contesting the case, has been running a campaign on social media, asking President Arif Alvi to "grant mercy" to Hayat. According to Article 45 of the Constitution, the president has the "power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority".
Earlier on Saturday, a press conference was organised by the Pakistan Psychiatric Society to call to attention the prisoner's execution.
"All medical officers who have examined Khizar Hayat over the years have found him to be actively exhibiting schizophrenic symptoms," said Dr Usman Ahmad Hotiana of the Pakistan Psychiatric Society. "In 2009, Khizar's mental illness got so severe that he got horribly beaten by his fellow prisoners. His injuries were severe enough to require surgeries. After that, he was put in solitary confinement."