Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ruled on Tuesday that the court order was not implemented in the missing persons’ case and held the army responsible for detention of 35 ‘missing’ persons in Malakand Internment Centre; out of them, only seven were produced before the court so far.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry with Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Amir Hani Muslim issued directives to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK) Pervez Khattak and Governor KPK Engineer Shaukatullah to ensure the recovery of all missing persons within a week and take actions against those involved in the enforced disappearances.
Disposing of the case, the bench said in its short order that a compliance report must be filed with the Registrar’s office for the perusal of Judges.
During the course of hearing, the bench ruled that there was no law that authorises Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), or Frontier Constabulary (FC) to detain persons and only the police could apprehend an accused after registering an FIR.
The bench observed that a person confined in an interment center in Aid of Civil Power was presumed to be under the jurisdiction of the administration “which does not authorise the military to remove internees without seeking permission and without any justification.”
The Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Munir A Malik informed the court on behalf of the Defence Minister that a bill to legislate a law over the issue of enforced disappearances would be tabled in current session of the National Assembly.
The court further observed that there was no law on detention except in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA). The rest of the country, however, must legislate these special laws. Directing the provincial chief executive of KPK, the bench said it should be ensured that no forced disappearance would take place in the province in future.
The court said in its order that prima facie, it drew a conclusion that all the 35 persons were undeclared internees who were taken away from Malakand Interment Center and only seven were produced before Justice Ameer Hani Muslim and no explanation was offered.
The bench ruled that when it asked Acting Secretary Defence about the forcible removal of these persons from the Interment center, he stated that the army had been given powers under Article 245 of the Constitution adding that the army could exercise these powers in the face of internal and external aggression.
The order said that the Attorney General for Pakistan responded to the court inquiry over 721 cases of enforced disappearances and that his office had submitted a draft to the federal government for legislation but there was no progress yet.
The bench said that as far as other agencies were concerned they could not detain persons forcibly without sharing their whereabouts with their relatives for a long period as evident from the present case.
The court recalled that despite repeated directions since August 5, 2013 the issue of producing the persons as per the list had not been resolved in spite of the involvement of Defence Minister and Prime Minister.
The bench ruled the Prime Minister and his cabinet in terms of Article 90 of the Constitution were duty bound to ensure the production of these missing persons and ensure that all the officers, responsible for removing these missing persons from the interment centers were dealt with in accordance with law.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the contentions by Acting Secretary Defence, the court dismissed his claim that the missing persons were not in the custody of army.
Meanwhile, with the resumption of missing persons’ case in Quetta the bench directed the additional secretary, interior, to submit the record of medical treatment of Major-General Ejaz Shahid, IG FC; in AFIC, and also directed the incumbent IG FC Quetta to appear before the court today (Wednesday).
Author: Khudayar Mohla
Source: Business Recorder