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PM, army chief could be affected by court verdict in Missing Persons case: CJ Iftikhar

04 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed on Tuesday during the hearing of the missing persons case in the Supreme Court that the prime minister and the army chief could be affected by the court verdict.

The Supreme Court directed the government to ensure the production of 30 missing persons by tomorrow (Thursday) besides ordering the Frontier Constabulary IG to appear before the court and submit report pertaining to missing persons in Balochistan or face legal action.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, resumed hearing of the case.

The government failed to produce the remaining 33 missing persons before the Supreme Court and sought time for showing progress in the matter.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that the court had repeatedly made it clear that its orders must be implemented in letter and spirit by producing the missing persons. "Everyone has to implement the orders of this court whether he is a prime minister or army chief," the chief justice remarked, adding that the matter is being heard since August but the government has not shown any progress in this regard.

The Ministry of Defence in its statement in the court stated that ground check is being conducted vigorously and all efforts are being made to trace the missing persons mentioned in the SC order of Nov 26. The defence ministry stated that two missing persons, Sardar Ali and

Nadar Khan, who expired in internment centre in Lakki Marwat, died of natural causes and heir next of kin opted not to have their postmortem. The defence ministry also submitted relevant documents to verify the death of the two missing persons. It said ground check is continuing to trace out the remaining missing persons. It said probe in the tribal belt is risky/hazardous due to ground/weather and administrative problems and requested the court to grant six to eight weeks for detailed response.

Attorney General Munir A Malik assured the court that they will definitely show some progress provided little time may be given to comply with the court orders. The court accepted the plea of the attorney general and ordered the government to ensure production of 30 missing persons by tomorrow (Thursday).

Earlier, Acting Secretary Defence Major General (R) Arif Nazir informed the court that they have received confirmation of three persons, who have been released out of the 33 missing persons.

He told the court that one of the missing persons, Habibullah, son of Hazrat Ali, who was in the rehabilitation centre, had left the country from Peshawar in December 2012. On the court's query, the acting secretary defence said that he was released on April 28, 2012. He however requested the apex court not to ask about the other two missing persons because if their identities were revealed it would create a security risk. He said they were too released on April 28, 2012, adding that if their names were disclosed, it could be dangerous for them.

The chief justice observed that these were just three people and if only 30 percent of the missing persons were presented, the court could have said that there had been progress. Justice Iftikhar said the court should be informed in writing where these missing persons were kept and when they were released.

The acting defence secretary said the release of the missing persons was a dangerous process. The chief justice observed that more progress should have been made by the government to ensure production of the all the missing persons.

The acting secretary defence to a court query regarding the missing person Yasin Shah submitted that efforts were being made to trace him.

During the hearing, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif submitted that he found the status of five missing persons in four days. He added that the matter had been raised with the prime minister and army chief and the missing persons would be released. Khawaja Asif further said that the incumbent government was making all out efforts to revive the institutions, which were badly affected. He praised the chief justice for his untiring efforts due to which the judiciary is functioning well.

The defence minister claimed making progress in four days for tracing out five missing persons on the court's direction. The chief justice reminded Khawaja Asif that it was his responsibility. Khawaja Asif repeated that he met with the Prime Minister and discussed with him the issue of missing persons as well as for making legislation regarding the missing persons.

He contended that all the missing persons when traced out will be dealt in accordance with the law. He sought some time for producing the remaining missing persons before the court.The chief justice, however, stressed that all the missing persons must be produced before the court right now. He observed that the court' order must be implemented in letter and spirit.

Justice Iftikhar while addressing acting defence secretary said that the court had made it clear in its respective orders that all the missing persons must be produced before it. "Save your honour and also take care of us," the chief justice asked the acting secretary defence, adding that the court cannot give further latitude.

"We have no more option. Let the law takes its course," the chief justice remarked. He asked the attorney general as to whether it was his responsibility to tackle the issue or the court may ask someone to comply with court's order.

"This is my responsibility," replied the acting secretary defence. The chief justice then asked him to provide the list of people so far they have contacted regarding the missing persons. "Give us the names of the concerned people, we will talk to them directly," the chief Justice said. "You cannot claim privilege, this is our prerogative," the Justice Iftikhar said.

Khawaja Asif sought two hours to talk to the concerned authorities. The chief justice agreed and told Khawaja Asif that by 2:30pm, the court should be informed about the progress in the matter.

Later, the attorney general appeared before the court and assured that they will definitely show some progress if little time was given in this regard. At this, the court adjourned the hearing till tomorrow (Thursday) with the direction that all the remaining 30 missing persons be produced before the court on the next date of hearing.

End.

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