SC grills counsel over contentions regarding FATA Regulation

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday grilled a counsel with a number of inquisitive queries regarding his stance over promulgation of Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation and the role of security forces in maintaining law and order in the tribal areas.

The three-member bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh Azmat Saeed resumed hearing of pleas seeking release of Adiyala Jail missing prisoners, who were arrested and confined in an interment center at Parachinar, Kurram Agency.

The Chief Justice reminded Ghulam Nabi, counsel for Senator Prof Muhammad Ibrahim of the Jamaat-i-Islami, that his client was a legislator and he should realize his capacity, which was different from that of ordinary citizens.

The counsel said that the regulation violated fundamental rights of the tribesmen and was instrumental in giving a free hand to security forces. The Chief Justice told him that if he had any grievance against the misuse of these laws, he should better approach a high court.

“Bring out any adjournment motion your client had ever submitted in the Upper House. Does not he know what is happening in his province (KPK),” he added. “Your client has taken oath for the protection of Constitution. If you want then the bench will send your case to th Peshawar High Court”, he told the counsel after Nabi referred to a news clipping regarding the PHC Chief Justice’s remarks.

Rejecting his arguments, the CJ told him that his propositions were not acceptable to anyone in this country and advised him that his approach and posture towards the issue should be different.

Justice Sh Azmat Saeed questioned him whether he wanted to bring in peace keeping forces instead of security forces. Upon bench’s instructions, the counsel read out the preamble of Regulation.

The CJ asked him to record his statement that there was no threat to law and order situation and miscreants did not operate across the country, which would be the basis for challenging vires of the relevant law.

Justice Sh Azmat Saeed questioned whether under the said law it was wrong to warn the civilians to vacate an area in the tribal belt for carrying out an operation against the miscreants. “Do you want civilian causalities?” he asked.

The CJ supplemented his brother judge’s remarks by addressing the counsel: “You want to say that along with miscreants, civilians should also be killed or action against miscreants should not be taken.”

The counsel contended that the security operations in Malakand had displaced a large number of residents. Upon which Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that hundreds of residents had already returned back and there could be a few individual cases.

Earlier, Raja Muhammad Irshad, counsel for the secret agencies, submitted a confidential report over the status of prisoners kept in the internment center.

He apprised the bench that those prisoners would be tried under the relevant provisions of the law.

The CJ observed that the courts in the country were not helpless and knew it very well as how to get its orders implemented.

Raja Irshad contended that the secret agencies were working for the larger national interest and requested the bench to grant them two-week time so that the cases of those prisoners could be disposed of on the basis of available evidences.

The CJ told him that they could detain anyone but only in accordance with the law. Tariq Asad Advocate, counsel for late Rohaifa Bibi, main petitioner in the case, concluded his arguments over the issue by saying that his client’s sons were detained illegally.

He cited a number of judicial verdicts to press forth with his contentions. The bench rejecting his request for constitution of a larger bench, put off further hearing till March 20.