The Supreme Court has made it loud and clear that it can pass an appropriate order regulating the process of detaining people at internment centres on terrorism charges after it was told that the number of detained persons is 568.
Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar told a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Friday that out of the 568 detained people, 64 have been detained in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and 504 in the Provincial Administered Tribal Areas. The detail of these cases, however, was not provided to the court.
Earlier on July 9, the apex court was informed that 504 persons were being held at five different internment centres set up in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa under the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations 2011 allowing the civil government to confine those accused of terrorism.
The bench, also comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, was told on Friday that the number stood at 568.
The bench highlighted the need for adopting some standard operating procedures like appointing focal persons preferably at the offices of the concerned district and sessions judges or at the offices of political agents and deputy commissioners of the respective districts.
Such focal persons, the court proposed, should manage arranging meetings between the detainees and their families at the internment centers.
Such meetings were rare and only allowed after the wives and brothers of the missing people approached the apex court which directed authorities governing the internment centers to arrange meetings.
Now the court wants the relatives to approach the designated focal persons so that the meetings can be arranged without any hassle.
Hearing complaints about the lack of proper medical care and ready supply of food at the internment centres, the apex court bench ordered the secretaries of Fata and Pata to submit a comprehensive report about the provisions of medical treatment and food and observed that being human beings, these persons were entitled to proper treatment. The court will pass an appropriate order upon the submission of comprehensive reports.
The court also asked AAG Khokhar to submit a report highlighting the details of criminal or terrorism cases lodged against the detainees at the internment centres and also to explain why their cases have not proceeded in the concerned court of law if they were involved in terrorism offences.
Separately, referring to the case of Umar Hayat and Umar Bakht, two brothers who according to the local police were allegedly picked up by the Inter Services Intelligence on April 5, 2010 from Chakwal, the SC decided to refer the case to the district and sessions judge of Chakwal to record the statements of Malik Amir Farooq, owner of a local coal mine, then station house officer Chakwal, Badar Munir, assistant sub inspectors Khizar Hayat, Wajid Latif and Shabbir.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.
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