All missing person cases should be broadcast live: IHC

Court summons law minister, spy agencies officials over poet’s ‘disappearance’

Our Correspondent May 24, 2024
The case has sparked widespread outrage in the country, with many calling for the government to take action to recover Ahmed Farhad and hold those responsible accountable. PHOTO: FILE


The Islamabad High Court on Friday ordered the live broadcasting of all cases involving missing persons while hearing the plea for the recovery of poet Ahmed Farhad Shah.

Shah, a journalist and poet, went missing from his home in Islamabad on May 14 and his wife filed a petition in the IHC.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued an eight-page written order in Urdu, summoning Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar; sector commanders of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI); Intelligence Bureau (IB) director; as well as the Defence and interior secretaries in person before the court on May 29.

This marked the first time that the IHC had issued a written order in Urdu.

The order read that if the abducted individual was recovered before the next hearing, a written report must be submitted to the IHC registrar's office.

During the hearing, journalists informed the court about the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) notification.

The court permitted the reporting of the proceedings, underscoring the significance of the case.
During the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan and Islamabad IGP Ali Nasir Rizvi appeared before the court.

The court order read that the AGP was asked whether or not the law enforcement institutions, including the ISI and MI, were performing their duties under any law.

It added that the AGP replied that the ISI was directly accountable to the premier while the MI was associated with the defence secretary and the armed forces.

It further read that the court considered it necessary that all institutions should work within their constitutional limits

“But in the present situation, we cannot perform a comparative assessment of the administrative performance of the ISI with the police, FIA [Federal Investigation Agency] and CTD [Counter-Terrorism Department] until the court is briefed about official practices in institutions like the ISI and MI, including the way to conduct investigation and inquiry.”

The order read that the defence secretary had been summoned in his personal capacity so he could submit a written explanation to the court on these matters.

Read Recover missing poet till 24th, IHC tells AGP

“This would allow the court to clarify the role of the agencies in the jurisdiction of [a] police investigation in the future and lead them to be accountable in the jurisdiction of the court,” it added.

“During the discussion, the court has come to the conclusion that the issue of missing persons is the most important issue of public interest at the moment.” However, the court noted no legislation was passed by parliament so far to “make the role of law enforcement agencies usable or responsible” for this purpose.

The court order stated that no considerable benefit was availed from the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.

It added that all such issues could only be solved presently by understanding the “internal discretionary and administrative matters” of the intelligence agencies.

The IHC ordered the AGP and the petitioner’s lawyer, Advocate Imaan Mazari to nominate experts in this matter to the court.

It also appointed the secretary of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and senior journalist Hamid Mir as judicial assistants in the case.

The order read that judge was informed about Pemra’s ban on TV reporting of the court’s proceedings and the notification came following the previous IHC hearing of Shah’s case.

It added that the AGP informed the court that it could order the reporting of the cases that it deemed to be appropriate.

The IHC allowed the proceedings of Shah's to be reported, noting that it was of an important nature that concerned the people of Pakistan.

 “The court orders live streaming of all missing persons cases to facilitate public awareness and understanding of important legal issues,” it added.


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