The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued on Monday notices to the interior ministry and others for details about the number of suspects being tried under terrorism charges by military courts across the country.
A division bench, headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, called for the details by March 7 while hearing a petition seeking the whereabouts of a 27-year-old man, allegedly taken into custody by law enforcers in August last year.
Athar Jameel Ansari, the ‘missing’ person’s father, had taken the interior secretary, provincial home secretary, chiefs of police and Rangers and Gulistan-e-Jauhar SHO to court.
He told the bench that a law enforcement agency’s personnel entered his Gulistan-e-Jauhar house after midnight on August 15, 2015. He alleged that the personnel took away his son, Zain Ansari, in his vehicle (AUQ-064) along with his laptop, mobile phones and other belongings. Ansari said a kidnapping case was registered at the Gulistan-e-Jauhar police station on September 22, 2015 but there has been no clue about his son’s whereabouts ever since.
Ansari’s lawyer, Khawaja Saiful Islam, argued that the disappearance of the petitioner’s son is against the fundamental rights of the Constitution and therefore pleaded the court order the law enforcers to produce him.
During Monday’s hearing, the petitioner told the bench that around 3,000 suspects are being tried by military courts in the country, according to media reports.
Quoting a press briefing by the Inter-Services Public Relations director-general, he requested that the court may ask for a report from the interior ministry to inquire as to how many persons are in custody for trial by military courts. Unless this question is answered, the petitioner shall suffer irreparable losses and serious injuries shall be inflicted to him, he argued.
The bench issued notices to the interior secretary and others for March 7 to file details as to how many suspects were being tried by military courts in the country and adjourned the hearing.
Four military courts, two in Karachi and one each in Hyderabad and Sukkur, were established in the province under the 21st Amendment. Around 33 cases relating to terrorism and militancy have so far been transferred to the military courts in Karachi.
Last year, the provincial government had recommended to the interior ministry around 74 cases for transfer to military courts from anti-terrorism courts.
The high-profile cases include the trial of the Safoora Goth carnage attackers and the suspects in the Sabeen Mahmud murder case.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2016.