IHC concerned over
missing persons, ask
govt to explain policy

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ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Monday asked the additio­nal attorney general (AAG) to take up the missing persons’ cases with the federal cabinet and inform the court about the government’s policy in this regard.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb was hearing an intra-court appeal filed by the federal government against the order of the IHC single-member bench.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah, while disposing of a petition filed by Mahera Sajid, spouse of missing IT engineer Sajid Mehmood, had directed the federal government to compensate the family of the missing person.

The IHC division bench asked AAG Qasim Wadud the reason for filing the appeal against the order.

Mr Wadud replied that the court had imposed a heavy fine on the federal government. He referred to a previous decision by the Supreme Court in which an amount of Rs2,000 had been imposed as a fine on the government in a similar case in 1999.

A file picture shows relatives of Shia missing persons hold sit-in outside President Dr. Arif Alvi’s residence in Karachi (on May 10, 2019). 

Justice Aurangzeb reminded the AAG to read some judgements of Indian courts as imposing fine on the government was not an unusual phenomenon.

Mr Wadud pointed out that the government had also filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. “Was the appeal filed to stop the IHC from proceeding in this case?” the court asked, adding that the government had delayed the filing of the appeal in the Supreme Court for over one and a half years.

Mr Wadud requested the court to adjourn the case since he had forgotten to bring the case file in which he prepared the arguments.

Justice Farooq expressed his displeasure and advised the AAG to respect the court’s decorum.

Umer Gillani, the counsel for Mahera Sajid, told the court that spouse of his client had gone missing in 2015 and the stance of the federal government had remained the same in over 60 hearings. The court adjourned the hearing till next month.

Relatives of missing persons hold a protest outside the Supreme Court registry in Karachi in this PPI file photo.

It is pertinent to mention here that highlighting the ignorance of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government over missing people in Pakistan, a local media report stated that there have been too many examples in the country in which the voice of families of missing people have gone unheard even after decades.

Dawn newspaper reported that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has categorically said that the missing person issue is a test case for the state, which should clarify its position in the matter. The case under consideration relates to missing journalist Mudassar Naaru.

A file picture shows relatives of Shia missing persons hold sit-in outside President Dr. Arif Alvi’s residence in Karachi (on May 10, 2019). 

The court also highlighted the inability or unwillingness of the Commission for Inquiry of Enforced Disappearances (CIED) with regard to doing something concrete about this problem. According to the court, there are thousands of families whose loved ones have gone missing but no one bothers.

Citing the example of Mudassar Naaru, the Islamabad High Court said that as the family of Mudassar met Prime Minister Imran Khan, he expressed ignorance regarding the case and according to Naaru’s mother quickly gave orders to look into the matter.

He also spoke with sympathy and care to the small child who had now been left parentless.

Earlier, IHC has suggested a high treason charge for enforced disappearances over the state functionaries responsible for providing protection to citizens.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who made the observation during the hearing of a petition seeking safe recovery of ‘missing’ journalist Mudassir Mehmood Naaru, observed enforced disappearances gave the impression that the state was behind such a heinous crime, reported Dawn.

Referring to the ‘abduction’ of Assistant Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Sajid Gondal, the IHC chief justice remarked that a young man had illegally been taken into custody and was forced to give the statement that he had gone “to the Northern Areas on his own”, Dawn has reported.

Islamabad High Court

Imaan Zainab Hazir-Mazari, counsel for the family of the missing journalist, argued that officials of the spy agency should be held responsible for the enforced disappearance of any citizen from their respective jurisdiction, reported Dawn.

However, Advocate retired Lt Col Inamur Rahim argued that Prime Minister Imran Khan and federal cabinet were responsible for the safety and security of citizens and if they would fail to protect the life of a citizen, then they were liable to be tried for subversion of the Constitution under the Rules of Business 1973, reported Dawn.