SC seeks report on missing persons

Questions under which law people being kept in internment centres for years

ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday sought a report from the authorities concerned on missing persons with the observation that it wanted to know under what law people were being kept in internment centres for several years.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, heard the missing persons’ case. Defence of Human Rights Chairperson Amna Masood Janjua and Advocate Col (r) Inam-ur-Rahim appeared on behalf of the missing persons.

The court was informed that a meeting of Tasif Ali detained in an internment centre Kohat was arranged with his family. But Tasif’s father-in-law told the court that it was only a three-minute meeting and four guards carrying guns remained present during the meeting. They recorded the conversation, he said.

Justice Dost Muhammad said it was a very sensitive issue. The judge said when he was the chief justice of Peshawar High Court, a plan was chalked out with Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence representatives for a meeting of missing persons with their families.

The court ordered the deputy attorney general that it must be informed in writing on the next date of hearing under what charges Tasif Ali had been kept in the internment centre.

Col (r) Inam told the court that Tasif Ali had been interned since 2013, while there was no internment order whereas it is mandatory that an internment order should be issued in every case.

“Even the inquiry commission of missing persons didn't follow the mandatory procedure and disposed of cases on mere statement of agencies that the person has been interned,” he said.

Col (r) Inam contended he was told in Tasif Ali’s case that the trial of an army major (in connection with this case) was going on, but no progress report of it had been presented.

He said more than 100 persons died in custody at internment centres, but no inquiry was conducted, while the Army Act and Fata regulations say every unusual death in custody must be investigated through a proper board of inquiry. He said not a single case had been investigated.

Justice Afzal said they wanted to know under what law these persons were kept in internment centres. He stated they had sought a report from the deputy attorney general in this regard.

Justice Dost remarked if an Indian spy’s meeting could be arranged with his wife, why this facility could not be extended to the citizens.

DAG Sajjid Ilyas Bhatti informed the court that on November 14, 2008, the PHC had issued the order in respect of Adil Khan. He said in the inquiry report it had been pointed out that there were no charges against him. He added they had again written to the intelligence agencies regarding the matter and waiting for a reply.

Amna Janjua complained public prosecutors were not taking interest in the missing persons’ cases. She told the court that Adil Khan’s case had been pending for seven years. She said the families of the missing persons were waiting for their dear ones.

About Mudasir Iqbal’s case, Justice Dost said, “Why do members of the joint investigation team and law-enforcement agencies not sit together to know who is telling the truth and who is telling a lie?” Amna said, according to UN Enforced Disappearance Commission report, Mudasir was detained in one of the agencies’ cell. The DAG said the report about Mudasir had already been filed in the apex court and the intelligence agencies denied Mudashir was in their custody.

Justice Dost said, “If any military court holds Mudasir trial in future, it will be against the Supreme Court record and it would be revealed that he had been kept in an internment centre and the court was provided with wrong information”.

The court said punishment should be awarded in accordance with the law and the Constitution. It had been written in the Constitution that if a law-enforcement agency arrests any person, he should be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours. “Keeping people in the internment centres without framing any charge is illegal and unconstitutional,” the court held.

Justice Afzal said according to the holy Quran, the death of one man was like the death of the whole humanity.

The mother of Faisal Faraz and the father of Khair-ur-Rehman also appeared before the court. Their sons have been missing since 2011.

The hearing was adjourned until January 9, 2018.

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