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ISLAMABAD: As there is no let up in recovery of missing persons in the country, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the federal government to submit a detailed report regarding recovery of missing persons.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri issued the directions while hearing an intra court appeal (ICA) of ministries of defense, interior and Islamabad district administration.

In the ICA, the ministries and local administration have challenged the judgment which holds certain government functionaries responsible for non-recovery of a missing person and ordered the government to pay a monthly compensation stipend to his family.

Justice Aamer observed that enforced disappearance is failure of the state, adding in case of any missing person, secretaries of ministries of defense and interior and inspectors general (IGs) of police are responsible.

The additional attorney general informed the court that some people are involved in anti-state activities. Justice Aamer said action should be taken if people are involved in anti-state activities.

At this, the counsel for Mahira, whose husband has gone missing for the last five years, said that his client only wants recovery of her husband and that's it.

The IHC bench observed that the victim families of missing persons should be at least compensated, adding the court would maintain the single bench's verdict if state did not submit satisfactory reply in the matter.

Later, the court sought comprehensive report from the federation regarding the recovery of missing persons and adjourned the proceedings for two weeks. Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Islamabad's district administration moved the ICA challenging Justice Athar Minallah's July 11, 2018 verdict in which he wrote that "enforced disappearance is one of the most cruel and inhuman acts and categorized as a crime against humanity." Justice Minallah had maintained that the act of enforced disappearance may also attract provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and for the first time in Pakistan's history penalized a retired general and several civilian officials in the case of a missing person.

The IHC bench held that it is the duty of the Special Branch, Intelligence Bureau, the Inter Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence to collect information and promptly report to the concerned functionaries regarding any incident of abduction of citizen having the characteristics of an 'enforced disappearance' and to take effective measures in tracing the whereabouts of the victim. It is noted that these instrumentalities of the State are part of the JIT constituted under the Regulations. In the case of failure in fulfilling this duty the respective Sector Commanders shall expose themselves to being accountable and proceeded against.

The court gave this verdict in the case of a missing person Sajid Mehmood - an IT expert and a resident of F-10 is missing since March 2016. He is father to three daughters while his wife had filed a petition for the recovery of her husband. She also submitted applications seeking allowance on account of monthly household expenses from the federal government till her husband is recovered.

Beside safe recovery of her husband, Mahera had demanded that the federal government should be held liable for gross negligence in discharging its duty to protect the liberty of her husband and as a consequence, must pay her and her daughters monthly maintenance.

Apart from holding them responsible, Justice Minallah had later also imposed a cost of Rs100,000 each on the Ministry of Defence Secretary Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah (retd), Islamabad Chief Commissioner Zulfiqar Haider, Inspector General of Police Khalid Khattak, and District Magistrate Mushtaq Ahmed. Costs of Rs 300,000 were also imposed on Inspector Qaiser Niaz, who was the In-charge of Shalimar Police Station when Mehmood was abducted.

Besides, the court had expressed displeasure over the performance of Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau.

In the present ICA, the state through Advocate General Islamabad asked whether the single bench was right in accepting the petition as it was not maintainable without impleading the government or the state as respondents in the case. He also questioned that how the court was justified in imposing a fine on the heads of state functionaries and SHO in view of the facts and circumstances of the case.

In the chief commissioner and deputy commissioner's appeal, their counsel said that the appellants were not impleaded as a party in the petition and no relief whatsoever was claimed against the petitioners. Therefore, the appellants prayed to the court to nullify the verdict of the single bench of IHC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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