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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the details of inmates at seven internment centers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa observed that it is written in the law, under which persons have been detained in internment centers, that there would be periodic review of every detainee. He questioned whether period review of inmates was done. Whether they (inmates) were produced before the inquiry commission, which might have passed an order to retain so and so persons, release so and so persons from the center and extend the term of so and so detainees.

The Chief Justice said: "We are worried about each and every person detained in the internment centers." These people have been behind the bars for such a long time. They should be treated in accordance with the law as Article 4 of Constitution says; "To enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law is the inalienable right of every citizen."

The bench asked Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan to collect the data of every inmate and submit a report on next date of hearing. "It is your responsibility to see the record as you are the chief law officer of the court and have to assist us," the Chief Justice asked attorney general.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked what sort of commission has been created and if any report submitted and whether the law has been complied with. He inquired who 'enemy alien' is and if a Pakistani citizen can be declared as 'enemy alien.'

A five-judge bench heard the federation's and KPK's appeals against the Peshawar High Court verdict and the constitutional petition of the civil society against the Action in Aid (Civil Power) Ordinance, 2019.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa addressing the attorney general said it was never the case of federation that the people in the internment centers are 'enemy aliens', but that they are residents of erstwhile FATA and PATA.

The attorney general responded that these people were crossing the border up and down frequently; therefore, it was difficult to say who is a Pakistani and who is not. Most of these people are holding computerized national identity cards (CNICs).

Justice Qazi said if a person is 'enemy alien' then the authority can deal with him, but it can't sanctify the internment centers.

The Chief Justice asked the AGP, "You mean to say that under Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 and the proviso of Article 10(7) of Constitution, any Pakistani who works for enemy country is 'enemy alien'. The government then must have a list of 'enemy alien,' he further asked.

Anwar Mansoor argued that persons whose identity as Pakistani could not be ascertained are being kept in the internment centers. The Chief Justice inquired if the authorities would release any detainee in case he shows the CNIC and his name is in the voter list. Mansoor said it is right that person whose identity is not ascertained has been kept in the center, but inmates whose identity was established were released after fulfilling the legal requirements.

He said before 25th Amendment, the people residing in FATA and PATA whose identity was not ascertained were deemed as 'enemy alien' and the Action (In Aid of Civil Power) Regulations in 2011 was applied to them.

Justice Khosa said it is impossible to conceive that the constitution makers were not aware of the 'enemy alien'.

The attorney general accepted that the term 'enemy alien' is not mentioned in the Constitution and the laws except in Protection of Pakistan Act 2014. He, however, pleaded that 'enemy alien' is not citizen of Pakistan or Commonwealth member.

The Chief Justice questioned India is Commonwealth member then it means it is not 'enemy alien.' However, the attorney general informed that India has been declared an enemy country.

During the proceedings, Anwar Mansoor had heated arguments with Justice Qazi Faez, when the judge asked him why the list of books was not provided to the court associate. He said if they don't have books, which he is referring then how they can better understand the arguments. Annoyed with the AGP's behavior, Justice Gulzar asked him that he should argue the case in the manner given in the law. "You have to be very courteous while making submission." "You are the chief law officer of the court and you are here to argue and not to fight."

The case was adjourned for an indefinite period.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019