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Suo Moto is meant to serve public interest: PM

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif emphasized on Saturday (22nd of April, 2023) that the real purpose of suo moto action by the courts was to serve the public interest rather than the interest of any individual.

Speaking to the media after a visit to Kot Lakhpat Jail to celebrate Eid ul Fitr, Shehbaz questioned how many suo motu notices had been taken for the welfare of prisoners and in cases where the public interest was at stake.

The prime minister said that there is no other reason to take suo moto notice, saying that the law and Constitution do not allow it for any other purpose.

Suo moto actions allow for the judiciary to take notice of a matter on its own accord, without requiring a petition or request from any party. The use of suo moto powers has been a topic of debate in Pakistan, with some arguing that it can be misused and may lead to judicial overreach.

During his visit, the prime minister instructed Punjab authorities to create a plan to establish hospitals in prisons to provide medical treatment to inmates and improve sanitation services. The premier urged the Chief Secretary to prepare a proposal for a prison hospital within a week.

PM Shehbaz expressed his belief that this plan could be extended nationwide if successful. He noted that denying prisoners access to adequate medical and sanitation facilities is an act of injustice, regardless of the nature of their crime.

During his visit, Shehbaz held meetings with the Punjab Chief Secretary, IG Prisons, and the Jail Superintendent to discuss the issues faced by prisoners.

Expressing his concern over the deplorable condition of toilets in most jails, the premier emphasised the need to improve sanitation facilities, as inadequate toilets and sanitation could lead to the spread of diseases.

The prime minister further noted that there were currently approximately 8,000 prisoners in two Lahore jails and lamented that it takes months for sick prisoners to receive the necessary medical tests, causing their health to deteriorate.

He also called for operationalization of the basic health equipment available in the jail and instructed that the treatment process should be made easy and transparent.

In addition to calling for improved medical and sanitation facilities, PM Shehbaz also instructed authorities to provide vocational training to prisoners, with the aim of making them productive citizens and enabling them to earn a livelihood after their release.

He emphasised the need for measures to facilitate the release of those who have completed their sentences but remain incarcerated due to a lack of financial resources.

The prime minister urged the superior judiciary to address the plight of suffering prisoners and called for collective action and wisdom to overcome the challenges facing the country, setting aside personal interests.

During his visit, the prime minister also listened to the grievances of the prisoners and instructed relevant authorities to take up their cases with the appropriate ministries and institutions.


M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.