The Supreme Court directed the government to produce 14 out of 35 missing persons before the apex court’s Justice Amir Hani Muslim for in-camera proceedings at an appropriate place in the Supreme Court today (Saturday); while the remaining missing persons could be produced before the court on December 09.
Appearing before a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in the missing persons’ case, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif submitted a sealed ‘confidential’ report pertaining to details of 35 missing persons. During the course of hearing, after consulting with the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), the Defence Minister furnished a summary on the 35 missing persons and submitted that seven of them could be produced before the court.
Providing details, Khawaja Asif revealed that two were internees, two had died of natural causes, and one had proceeded abroad. He further apprised the bench that his Ministry had unsubstantiated information of another five missing persons with three reportedly in South/North Waziristan, eight in Kunar, Afghanistan and the whereabouts of seven were still not known.
The government team sought time for further progress in the instant matter with a plea that unsubstantiated information on five people could be furnished within a day or two. Khawaja Asif emphasised that none of the missing persons was in the custody of army or intelligence agencies, saying that his Ministry was making efforts to comply with the court orders.
The court was informed that in order to ensure the safety of individuals, the modalities of production in-camera would be left to the discretion of the court and the court may like to constitute an independent team to verify the status of the listed persons. During proceedings, the Defence Minister produced a sealed ‘confidential’ report before the bench; the court unsealed and perused it and directed the Registrar to keep the report in safe custody.
Issuing its short order in the matter, the bench issued directives to the Defence Minster to produce the following: seven in-camera who are no longer in custody, two persons/internees and five on whom there is unsubstantiated information before Justice Amir Hani Muslim today (Saturday) at 10.30 am to ascertain their status individually. The court directed the authorities concerned to ensure the attendance of one or two relatives of the missing persons who would be produced for in-camera session. The bench also directed Ataullah, Superintendent, Internment Center Malakand, to be present along with all relevant record for in-camera proceedings. The court stated in its order that the presence of the relatives of the two who had passed away was necessary to confirm if they agreed to receive the bodies without an autopsy. The hearing of matter was adjourned till December 09.
Author: Khudahyar Mohla
Source: Business Recorder