Usman Danish

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has ordered release of a Christian prisoner who was imprisoned for the last eight years without a trial.

A two-member bench of the PHC comprising Justice Mrs Musarrat Hilali and Justice Arshad Ali heard the case. The court had reserved the verdict after hearing arguments, and announced the short verdict on Saturday under which the prisoner, Shakeel Masih was released on bail.

Shakeel Masih was arrested from Khyber district on October 08, 2013 on charges of involvement in attack on the security forces. The case was with district judge Khyber, but no file of the case was presented in the court.

Shakeel Masih had approached the PHC for bail through Advocate Saifullah Mohib Kakakhel with a plea that he was imprisoned in Central Jail Peshawar since 2013 and no first information report (FIR) had been filed against him yet. He had told the court that he had been produced in the court after every 15 days, but no record of his case exists.

Shakeel Masih had claimed that he had been imprisoned for around 10 years without trial, while the records of his alleged crime and detention were missing from the documents of the relevant court in Khyber district. He had requested the court to declare his detention illegal, unconstitutional and against his basic rights. He had said the trial court had been extending his judicial remand after every 14 days for keeping him behind bars and this process is continuing for several years.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through advocate general, KP Inspector General Prisons, Interior Secretary, public prosecutor for Khyber district, district and sessions judge Khyber district, and Peshawar Central Prison’s superintendent were made respondents in the petition.

Saifullah Mohib Kakakhel said there are many prisoners who are in jails without a trial. He asked how a person can be kept imprisoned when no record of the trial exists at all. He said the case is pursued according to law if some charges are brought against the accused. He appealed to the superior judiciary to scrutinise such cases and order prisoners from jails who are languishing in jails without a trial.

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