No habeas corpus: PHC questions delay in trials of jailed militants

Secretaries for home, interior summoned to discuss issue

Fawad Ali February 10, 2016
Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: PPI

PESHAWAR: Voicing concerns over the delay in trials of inmates at internment centres, Justice Qaiser Rasheed observed the K-P government should not follow the US-led Guantanamo Bay where prisoners remain locked up without fair trial. However, she did not dispute the need for internment centres.

Justice Rasheed at a hearing on Wednesday remarked the government and relevant departments should find a solution to the issue as prisoners in internment centres have been categorised as “grey and black”, but their fate has not been decided.

Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel echoed the sentiments of Justice Rasheed. “Why haven’t the trials of internment centre inmates started as yet, even though the law is in place?”

The question arose when the bench was hearing petitions filed by family members of Rabbi Gul and Muhammad Imran. In response to the bench’s remarks, Deputy Attorney General Musarratullah said Imran had been missing since 2012 while Gul had been also missing for the last several years. However, they were both detained and the internment centre oversight board placed them in the black and grey category respectively. Black category inmates are considered proven militants while grey category is meant to denote suspected militants.

Musarratullah argued he had sent a letter to the federal government, informing it about the questions being raised by the court but there has been no response from the Centre as yet. He also informed the bench even the orders of former PHC chief justice Dost Muhammad Khan regarding such persons were forwarded to the federal government but to no avail.

The authority in question

Miankhel enquired under whose authority are inmates imprisoned at internment centres. Additional Advocate General Syed Qaiser Ali Shah replied if the internment centre is located in Provincial Administered Tribal Areas, the commissioner has the authority to withdraw the interning order.

“And if the centre is in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, then the governor has the power to withdraw the order,” Shah said. He argued the home department has been informed about this issue to devise a legal procedure and hold a trial of the categorised people after the oversight board issues its report.

However, the bench after hearing arguments ordered Shahid Khan, secretary for ministry of interior, and Munir Azam, secretary for home department, to appear before the court.

On Tuesday, the same bench was informed inmates at internment centres were maintaining ties with militants so family visitation would only be possible after police clearance.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th,  2016.


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