ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court once again showing restraint gave another opportunity to the authorities to produce 30 remaining undeclared internees before the Supreme Court today or be prepared for the consequences.
Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on behalf of the prime minister gave assurance about production of the prisoners today (Friday). “Tomorrow we shall give good news. Not all but many internees would be produced, as some have been freed,” he told the bench after talking to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, however, categorically told the minister to produce all the 30 detainees today, and warned they would not compromise regarding the implementation of SC order. The chief justice was heading a three-judge bench hearing a human rights case for the recovery of Yasin Shah and 34 other undeclared internees.
Allegedly an army officer had taken away Yasin Shah and 34 other detainees from the custody of Malakand Internment Centre superintendent in February 2012. According to the acting defence secretary, out of 35 undeclared detainees, two had died and three persons have been released.
On Thursday, the hearing was adjourned twice as Khawaja Asif, Attorney General Munir A Malik and Acting Defence Secretary Major General (r) Arif Nazir requested the court to give them some time to discuss and resolve the matter.
At 4 o’clock in the evening when the bench resumed hearing, the minister placed on record the statement about the prisoners but the court rejected it. In the meanwhile the minister had a call from PM on his cell. After talking to the PM, he requested that case be adjourned until 10:30am Friday, promising that they will give good news about the detainees.
Earlier, during the proceeding, Justice Chaudhry told Khawaja Asif that he was involved in the case with the hope that he would play his role in resolving the issue. The CJP further said to him that if he cannot offer any help, they would summon someone else superior to him who could solve the problem. “We will not allow a parallel government to be run,” the CJP remarked. He said if the internees were criminals then the authorities must bring charges against them. Justice Jawwad said that it was the issue of fundamental rights of the citizens and the court had tangible evidences now and “prima facie the state actors are being implicated in the case”.
The chief justice asked the minister to tell the PM the matter was going from bad to worse, adding they would not allow the authorities to let down the apex court. “The media is seeing how the Court is being humiliated... From the day one, the government is not respecting the court orders.” He warned that if they would pass an order then it ‘would go in bad taste’. Lauding the former Army Chief, the CJP remarked that General (r) Kiyani respected the court order, and in Adiala Jail missing prisoners case, he made the internees to be brought from Fata in helicopter within one hour.
The attorney general told the court that people are shaking and moving, and its order is reverberating at the concerned circles. He asked the CJP, “You know how the machinery works and the system operates.” Acting defence secretary informed that the internees were not in the custody of military. He said they had found some prisoners and they would like to share the information with the court in-camera.
The court reminded the acting secretary that he himself had said in the last hearing that five detainees were at the internment centres and asked him to trace the rest of the missing persons with the help of those five persons. The chief justice said that it is court’s duty to save the internees’ lives. The hearing was adjourned until Friday.