The Supreme Court, while hearing a six-year-old petition filed by the Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee of Bangladesh rejected the plea on the basis of ‘locus standi’. The plea concerned the repatriation of around 300,000 to 400,000 stranded Pakistanis (mostly Biharis) from Bangladesh. The petition had been filed through its president Abdul Jabbar Khan.
The petition was moved in 2009 under Article 184(3) of the Constitution but was returned by the SC registrar, saying that the applicant should approach the proper forum instead.
Later, the counsel for applicant challenged the registrar’s objection, but the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry did not fix the matter for hearing.
Last year, former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani heard the appeal in chambers against the registrar’s objection, after which he rejected the objection and decided to fix the case for regular hearing. Later on, the matter was fixed before different benches, wherein notices were also issued to Attorney General for Pakistan, foreign office, cabinet division etc, seeking their replies on this matter.
However, after the brief proceedings on Tuesday, the three judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar dismissed the plea with the observation that neither the petitioner has locus standi nor is it a registered organisation under the law.
During the hearing, Rashidul Haq Qazi counsel for petitioner states that more than 300,000 stranded Pakistanis are currently residing in Bangladesh.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh responded that the Supreme Court of Bangladesh had already declared them as citizen of Bangladesh.
Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while submitting a reply in this matter has said that the remaining ‘stranded Pakistanis’ in Bangladesh, a majority of whom are Biharis, are not the responsibility of Pakistan as the country has already repatriated a large number of non-Bengalis.
Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood submitted a report on behalf of the foreign office, stating that currently, there are around 400,000 to 500,000 stranded Pakistanis residing in Bangladesh and that they are the responsibility of Bangladesh government.
The Foreign Office in its report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, claimed that large number of Biharis stranded in Bangladesh do not want to be repatriated to Pakistan. “There is a difference of opinion on their repatriation to Pakistan. There are a large number of Bhiharis in Bangladesh who do not want to be repatriated to Pakistan,” said the report.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2015.
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