PAKISTAN: SUPREME COURT SAYS SCHIZOPHRENIA NOT A MENTAL DISORDER, DISMISSES MERCY PLEA OF DEATH ROW CONVICT
October 21, 2016: Pakistan's
Supreme Court has ruled that schizophrenia is not a mental disorder as per the
law of the land, thus sending a mentally ill man to the gallows for the murder
of a religious scholar. The United Nations had told Islamabad that the
death sentence in the 2002 case was a breach of international law because the
accused, Imdad Ali, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and psychosis in
Ali‚Äôs doctors had concluded that his ‚Äúrational thinking and
decision-making capabilities‚ÄĚ were impaired and declared him clinically insane
in a report submitted in 2013. However, Ali‚Äôs final appeal to the court was
turned down in 2015. His execution was stayed after his wife moved court and submitted
a last-minute appeal.
The country‚Äôs highest court on October 20 gave its approval
for the sentence to be carried out after it noted that schizophrenia was ‚Äúa
recoverable disease, which, in all the cases, does not fall within the
definition of ‚Äėmental disorder‚Äô as defined in the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001‚ÄĚ. The court said Ali‚Äôs
condition was not a permanent one and varied according to the ‚Äúlevel of
stress‚ÄĚ. The bench also said
rules related to mental sickness were not subjugated to delay the execution of
death sentence, The Express Tribune reported.
dismissing Ali's mercy plea of the ground of mental illness, the court cited
the Indian Supreme Court judgment in Bhishan Gupta vs the Union of India of 1977. In that case the convict's mother had moved the court, arguing her son should
not be executed because he of "unsound mind" and suffering from
schizophrenia. The court had dismissed her plea and held that the convict did
not suffer from legal insanity, neither during his trial nor at the time of the
offence was committed.
could be executed on October 26 despite strong criticism of the verdict,
according to The Independent.
UK-based legal charity, said, ‚ÄúIt is outrageous for Pakistan‚Äôs Supreme Court to
claim that schizophrenia is not a mental illness, and flies in the face of
accepted medical knowledge, including Pakistan‚Äôs own mental health laws.‚ÄĚ The
director of the NGO urged the president of the country to urgently intervene to
stop ‚Äúthis sickening attempt to hang‚ÄĚ Ali.
The UN‚Äôs human rights office has also called on the Nawaz
Sharif government to stop the execution and initiate a re-trial ‚Äúin compliance
with international standards‚ÄĚ. ‚ÄúIt is a violation of death penalty safeguards
to impose capital punishment on individuals with a psychosocial disability,‚ÄĚ
said the Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights. (Sources: scroll.in, 21/10/2016)