The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the detention record of 11 prisoners scooped up by the intelligence agencies from Adiala Jail after being acquitted on charges of attacking the General Headquarters (GHQ) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)’s Hamza Camp.
Heading a full bench, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to assist the court in the recovery of seven surviving missing persons who were allegedly kept at an internment centre in Landi Kotal.
Raja Arshad, counsel for ISI and MI chiefs, informed the court that the cases could not be lodged under the Army Act against former prisoners at the Adiala Jail due to a lack of incriminating evidence. Taking note of Arshad’s statement, the chief justice said, “Keeping them in custody without evidence is illegal and illogical”.
The court asked Arshad whether a case could be registered against ISI officials for detaining the prisoners and handing them over to the tribal administration in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). However, the counsel insisted that the seven men were terrorists. The ISI statement, submitted as part of the record, states that the men were involved in the killing of three-star generals and the attack on Hamza camp and GHQ, Arshad added.
“The issue is beyond mere statements. We have a report from the Punjab chief secretary according to which these 11 people were picked up by the agencies from Adiala jail,” the chief justice said, rejecting Irshad’s statement.
The court observed that, according to the record, the bodies of four out of the eleven men were found at either fuel stations or abandoned fields at a time when they were in the custody of the ISI, adding that if there was any evidence against the prisoners being involved in attacks on security installations, they would be held accountable.
“The constitution is the source of law in the country. No prisoner can be held without concrete evidence,” said the chief justice, adding that if the counsel for the intelligence agencies provided any incriminatory evidence against the men in court, they would not be released.
The court adjourned the case for three weeks.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.