‘State using delaying tactics in missing persons case’

Defence minister, secy told to produce 35 missing persons.

Rana Tanveer December 01, 2013
At the previous hearing, the court had sought details from the interior ministry regarding the repatriated prisoners. DESIGN: SIDRAH MOIZ KHAN

LAHORE: The missing persons cases featured prominently in the courts last week. The Lahore Registry of the Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court, while hearing separate cases, summoned the defence and interior secretaries to court.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry held two hearings of the missing persons cases and ordered the defence minister and secretary to produce 35 missing persons or appear in person to “face the consequences”.

Justice Chaudhry had passed the order after defence authorities failed to produce the people on Tuesday and sought more time.

Additional Defence Secretary Major Gen (retd) Raja Arif Nazir, Senior Joint Secretary Anzar Rizvi, Legal Director Muhammad Irfan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Prisons Zakir Husain Afridi and Malakand Internment Centre Superintendent Ataullah appeared before the three-member bench. The defence secretary did not appear.

Last Monday, the LHC summoned the interior secretary to explain the whereabouts of six Pakistani citizens repatriated from Bagram Theatre Internment Camp, Afghanistan, by United States authorities.

At the previous hearing, the court had sought details from the interior ministry regarding the repatriated prisoners. However, a standing counsel had sought more time.

Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan turned down the request. He observed that the state sought more time as a strategy to delay proceedings. The judge admonished the ministry for employing delaying tactics and said it was “a cruel act”.

Justice Khan also expressed disappointment with the ministry for not informing the families, lawyers and the court about the repatriation of the prisoners after they were released from Bagram.

He lamented that the court had found out about their release through a letter submitted before a US Court of Appeals and not the federal government.

Prison food

Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Designate Tasadduq Hussain Jilani took suo motu notice of an incident in which a gecko was found in the food served to women prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail and demanded an inquiry report from the jail authorities in this regard.

Inspector General of Prisons Farooq Nazeer and Prisons DIG Malik Mubashir appeared before the court on a short notice. The DIG said that they had initiated an inquiry into the incident and would present a report in 24 hours.

Indian films

The LHC issued a notice to the Film Censor Board chairman on a contempt of court petition for not stopping the exhibition of Indian films that were allegedly smuggled into Pakistan.

Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan adjourned further proceeding till December 2. The counsel for the petitioner said that the court had earlier issued the chairman directions to stop the exhibition of foreign movies that had been smuggled into the country. However, the movies were still being screened.

He said the respondent should be tried for wilful contempt of court.

Marriage raids

Last week, the LHC issued a notice to the district coordination officer and the inspector general of police for reply on a petition challenging the legality of raids on residences for wedding celebrations that went on after 10pm.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.


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