ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court has said that no institution is above the law and all missing persons are citizens of this country. No one will be allowed to infringe the fundamental rights of the citizens, the court added.
Heading a three member bench hearing the Masood Janjua missing person case on Monday, Justice Jawaad S Khawaja remarked, “We have told the federal and provincial governments repeatedly to consider these missing persons as the citizens of the state.”
He said that any action against any citizen of the country has to be taken within the ambit of the law. “Today the intelligence agencies are refusing to acknowledge missing persons, tomorrow the government would disown them as citizens of this country. No institution is above the law and anyone who disobeys law would be dealt within the law,” he said.
Additional Attorney General Tahir Khokar and representative of defence ministry Flight Lieutenant Muhammad Irfan appeared before the court. The court was told that 7 out of 11 officers have submitted their affidavits which include former president Pervez Musharraf, former AGP Malik Qayyum, Incharge of Crisis Management Cell Javed Iqbal Cheema, Brigadier Mansoor Saeed Sheikh and Col (r) Jahangir Akhtar.
The court said that it had rejected the affidavit of former defence secretary Maj Gen (r) Saeed Athar Abbas as it was unverified and he should resubmit it. The court also rejected the plea of defence ministry to keep the affidavits classified and said that there is nothing classified in the affidavits.
The court also sought a comprehensive report from Rawalpindi Police regarding the recovery of Masood Janjua. Irfan told the court that Col (r) Habibullah, Lt-Gen (r) Shafqat Ahmed, Lt-Gen (r) Nadeem Taj and Col (r) Javed Iqbal Lodhi have retired and that they were trying to locate them. He sought more time from the court to get their affidavits. The court gave three weeks for submitting the remaining affidavits and adjourned the hearing.
During separate hearings of two other missing persons on Monday, SC judge Justice Nasirul Mulk observed that detention centres are (practically) beyond the reach of defence ministry for reasons ‘unknown to us’.
He was heading a two member bench hearing cases of two missing youngsters Hafiz Muhammad Jameel and Mudassar Iqbal, of Lahore and Rawalpindi respectively. Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokar and Amina Masood Janjua appeared before the court.
On the start of the hearing the court sought final report in Jameel’s case. AAG Tariq Khokar told the court he does not have a final report and they had asked ISI, MI and the army to gather information about the matter but they have conveyed their ignorance about Jameel’s whereabouts. He said there was only a police report which indicated the involvement of a sensitive agency in the case.
Justice Nasir said how is it possible that if MI, ISI, army and the police are allegedly involved in a case, they do not know about the missing person. “We need a positive response; we cannot hold hearings of such matters every day,” he remarked.
Citing the court order dated Oct 22, 2013, Justice Nasir said that in that order a sensitive agency officer had admitted to the presence of Jameel and he was suppose to give more information. “How can they back out from that position after admitting his presence in the court as well as before the commission on missing persons?”
The AAG replied that through the mobile phone of the missing boy it was found that he was with a sensitive agency and when the agency was contacted, they said they have no knowledge about him. The AAG said he only has a one page answer that the said person is not in any detention centre and there is no other information. Muhammad Irfan, a representative of defence ministry, told the court that whatever information he had, he has put it in the report.
Amina Masood Janjua also told the court that defence ministry last October had presented a list of 700 detainees and told the Sindh High Court that Jameel’s number was 70 and he was in a detention centre but they do not specifically know in which detention centre he was being kept. AAG sought more time and said that he will ask a representative of defence ministry and would get back to the court.
Justice Nairul Mulk said that when defence ministry itself is admitting that Jameel is on the list then how they can now give a dissenting report. Justice Ameer Hani Muslim asked who is incharge of KPK detention centre. AAG replied it is run under a superintendent. Justice Nasir said, “Tell us about the person who made the list of detainees and we will summon that person”.
The court also asked Irfan that whether a statement was given in the commission or not. To which Irfan replied that the statement was given by Lt-Col Ghulam Abbass and he does not know if he is working on this case or not. Justice Ameer Hani said that Jameel’s name is even in the list presented to the Sindh High Court. On this Irfan said he has no knowledge of that list. The court reprimanded Irfan and said that “you are working in defence ministry and you do not know about the list. If you have no knowledge of facts why did you come in the court?”
Irfan insisted that detention centres were working in the ambit of defence ministry. These detention centres are operational in Fata and Pata. Justice Nasir said that these detention centres are “beyond your reach for reason unknown to us”. He said that the statement is obvious and it is not given by KPK governor but the defence ministry and “we want to know about this statement”. Irfan said that he should be given two to three weeks time.
Justice Ameer said that “what is happening, we know it very well. Are your connections so weak that you need this much time? We are not asking about kidnapping for ransom, we are just seeking details of the detention centre.” But, Irfan again sough more time. Justice Hani said that “this matter can be solved within minutes. All you have to do is to find whether this man is present in the detention centres or not. Maybe you do not know but all people who are released by intelligence agencies are monitored for many years.” The court seeking response over Jameel’s detention from the defence ministry adjourned the hearing until January 20.
The court also heard the case of missing Mudassar Iqbal, who was picked up in 2011 from Rawalpindi’s RA Bazaar. Amina Masood Janjua told the court that there is an affidavit which has complete details. He is present at an FIA detention centre at Mall Road near Regal Chowk.
AAG told the court that this centre is at Temple Road and is no longer operational. On this Justice Nasirul Mulk said that at a point it was working. AAG said that mother of Mudassar Iqbal had given us this information and we had sought more information. On which the court inquired when was this information given.
Mudassar’s mother told the court that a telephone call came a year ago and the called told us that Mudassar has been shifted to Islamabad from Lahore. AAG told the court that as soon as FIA learnt of this, they shut it down. A man met Mudassar’s father in a mosque and told him that he is in a building in Lahore.
On this the court sought information regarding the incharge of the building so that they could proceed and gave a written order for the incharge to be presented before the court in the next hearing. The court than adjourned the hearing until Jan 28.