The Supreme Court on Friday directed Attorney-General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to present a list of police and intelligence officials who may be implicated for their involvement in the disappearance of missing persons on the basis of substantive evidence.
“The number of missing persons is on the rise,” Justice Javed Iqbal remarked during the course of hearing of the missing persons’ case. He was presiding over a four-member bench of the apex court. He said the 11 men who had disappeared from the Adiala Jail were recovered only after the Supreme Court warned of stern action.
“The court cannot address the grievances of every citizen and not everybody has the means to approach the Supreme Court,” he observed.
“Some missing persons believed to have been picked up by intelligence agencies had voluntarily joined jihadi groups,” Secretary Interior Chaudhry Qamaruz Zaman informed the bench The case of Hassan Sharjeel, the son of a local journalist, is one such example.
“Secret agencies will submit their replies in court to help trace people who are still missing and ascertain who is responsible for abducting them,” Defence Secretary Athar Ali assured the court.
He informed the bench that secret agencies are cooperating with the judicial commission and that 96 missing persons have been recovered to date.
Interior Secretary said that the earlier figure which put the number of missing persons at 8,000 had created widespread panic whereas the correct figure is 400. He said the ministry is preparing separate lists of persons held by the police and the agencies.
He suggested a tribunal be constituted for this case with the power to issue summons to save the court’s time.
Defence of Human Rights Chairperson Amina Masood Janjua requested the court to continue to hear their cases since the relatives of missing persons are made to appear before the judicial commission’s subcommittees.
Justice Javed Iqbal assured her that the Supreme Court would decide the cases of the missing persons. The court has already recovered more than a hundred.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court decided to proceed under criminal law against police and intelligence agencies’ officers charged with abducting people who have not been traced so far.
The SC bench asked the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court to prepare a list of cases in which relatives of persons who are still missing have accused police or intelligence agencies for their disappearance with the assistance of the Attorney General’s office.
“This will help the court to order an appropriate legal action against the responsible persons or officers under criminal law,” the court said in its order. The hearing of the case has been adjourned till February 3.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2011.
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