RAWALPINDI: A high court judge on Wednesday slammed the practice of arresting people without evidence or warrants as he rejected a request from the deputy attorney general to grant more time to produce a man who, his mother claims, had disappeared after being arrested by law enforcers.
The court subsequently issued notices seeking a report on the whereabouts of the missing man by next week. This was directed by Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi–bench’s Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin, as he heard a case about the disappearance of Sultan Zameen.
In a petition filed by 80-year-old Yekha Khan, the widowed mother of Zameen, she contended that her son was working at an automobile store on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road near Taxila. On February 3, 2018, personnel of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) — in uniforms and in plain clothes — arrived at his store and arrested Zameen.
Time-stamped closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) installed at the store captured the entire incident, showing around half a dozen armed officers whisking Zameen away.
Inamur Raheem, Yekha’s counsel, contended that despite the presence of such evidence, the Taxila police had refused to register a case when they filed an application.
“[Zameen is] a law-abiding citizen who has never been nominated in any case,” Raheem contended, adding that the missing man was not associated with any banned organization either.
“He used to work from 8am in the morning to 10pm in the evening to provide for his family,” he said, adding that Zameen had six children.
The counsel posited that if any charges had been brought against Zameen, his family should be informed about them.
He requested the court to direct the concerned authorities to present Zameen in court.
When Wednesday’s hearings started, Justice Amin asked whether the petitioner was in the court. At this, Raheem stated that she was 80-years-old and cannot leave the house.
“In the future, no one will be granted permission to arrest and disappear anyone without evidence or warrants,” Justice Amin stated.
“Please convey my message to the 80-year-old widowed mother of the missing young man that not only will we find her son, but those responsible for arresting him will face legal action.” Justice Amin then summoned the deputy attorney general (DAG) to the court.
Appearing before the court, the DAG sought time to present the missing person. Justice Amin observed that there are pictures and videos of Zameen’s arrest which cannot be ignored.
“This is an issue of human rights, under no circumstance can we grant additional time,” Justice Amin said and issued notices to present a report on February 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2019.