IHC declares poet Farhad missing person until returns home

ISLAMABAD   -    The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a written order in the case of missing Kashmiri poet Ahmed Farhad Shah, declaring him a ‘missing person’ and directing authorities to ensure his safe return home. The court observed that, given the facts, Shah forcibly disappeared and that state agencies have failed to recover him despite their best efforts.

IHC’s Judge Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani issued the written order, stating that Ahmed Farhad’s arrest was illegal and that he must be produced before a judicial magistrate for a statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Section 164 of the CrPC states that a magistrate can record any confession or statement made to him, regardless of whether he has jurisdiction in the case or not.

The court further directed that the investigation should proceed in light of Farhad’s statement.

The court’s order also called for the formation of a larger bench to hear all cases of missing persons, with the chief justice exercising administrative powers to constitute the bench. Additionally, the court ordered that the heads of the Military Intelligence (MI), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Intelligence Bureau (IB), as well as the in-charge of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), be summoned to the next hearing of the criminal justice committee.

They are to present their recommendations and reports to the committee, and national security cases are to be fixed for in-camera hearings.

The court also observed that the heads of high-level investigative agencies should refrain from briefing the media after in-camera briefings and that the attorney general and the Law minister should ensure the missing poet’s safe return home.

The court also emphasized the “absurdity” surrounding Shah’s enforced disappearance - a shift from the jurisdiction of Lohi Bher police station to that of Dheer Kot, Azad Kashmir.

Consequently, the court deemed the circumstances of his arrest illegal.

On June 4, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Muzaffarabad denied bail to poet Ahmed Farhad.

The Kashmiri poet went missing from his home in Islamabad on May 14 and was found in police custody at a police station outside Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on May 29.

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