Islamabad, October 21: Pakistan’s Supreme Court in a bizarre judgement has ruled that schizophrenia does not fall within its legal definition of mental disorders and cleared a way for the execution of a mentally ill convicted of murder. Pakistans top most court called for the execution of Imdad Ali, as soon as next week. Inspite of certification of government doctors in 2012, which said Imdad Ali is a paranoid schizophrenic, he will be sentenced to death for the murder of a cleric that took place in 2001.
On Friday Ali’s lawyer argued that he was unfit to be executed as the 50-year-old was unable to understand his crime and punishment. Ali’s lawyer also argued that his conviction would violate Pakistan’s obligation under a United Nation’s treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
A three-judge bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice AnwerZaheed Jamali, today ruled that schizophrenia is “not a permanent mental disorder”. The verdict pronounced by the judges further said, “Schizophrenia, is a recoverable disease, which, in all the cases, does not fall within the definition of mental disorder”. The verdict relied upon two definitions from a dictionary of the term ‘schizophrenia’, as well as a 1988 judgement by the Supreme Court of India. According to the American Psychological Association, it defines schizophrenia as, “a serious mental illness characterised by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behaviour and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices”. Also Read – Schizophrenics more likely to attempt suicide: study
Pakistani psychiatrist Dr Tahir Feroze, a government-appointed doctor who treated Ali for the last eight years, reportedly said that he along with two other doctors certified Ali’s condition in 2012. According to Reuters, Ali suffers from delusions that he controls the world and he hears voices in his head that command him. “He is completely delusional,” Safia Bano, Ali’s wife told Reuters.
On the other side Ali’s lawyer, Sarah Belal alleged that the government report certifying Ali’s condition was never presented in court before 2016. In its judgement, the Supreme Court dismissed the medical records and an affidavit from Feroze. Reprieve, Britain-based Human Rights group, the verdict is “outrageous”. Maya Foa, Reprieve’s director said that it is “outrageous” for Pakistan’s Supreme Court to claim that schizophrenia is not a mental illness in the face of government medical reports.
In 2014, after Peshawar school attack, Pakistan has executed 425 people after reintroducing the death penalty. After this judgement, Ali is likely to be executed as early as Wednesday. Waiting for the last chance, Ali’s wife said she would seek forgiveness for her husband from the heirs of the murder victim, a feature of Shariah law used in Pakistan.