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SC orders production of 35 missing persons within 48 hours

28 January, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday ordered the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments for the recovery and production of 35 missing persons before it within 48 hours. The court observed that it was being intimidated to drop the hearing into the case.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked, "The court has gone to extreme end of restraint. The government cannot protect the rights of citizens. Performance of the federal and KP governments is under question."

He remarked, "The government is deviating from law and Constitution, giving importance to doctrine of necessity. The federal and provincial governments should focus on the issue of missing persons seriously. We want to give full opportunity to the governments to address the matter of missing persons. We don't want that the court exercise its powers. No one is ready to protect the fundamental rights of citizens."

He went on to remark, "We are being frightened that this case should not be heard, otherwise a major disaster would befall. I want to say heavens may fall or the earth may split, no one will be allowed to deviate from law and Constitution. No law contrary to the Constitution can be enacted. There is no more need for in-camera hearing into the missing persons' case." He remarked, "Everyone knows who has taken away these persons. No one should consider himself above the law."

He made these remarks while presiding over a three-member bench hearing the missing persons' case. Attorney General (AG) Suleman Butt told the court the government had constituted a one-member commission comprising Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan on the matter of 35 missing persons. The commission will finalise its investigations within a month and present report; therefore, hearing be adjourned till that time.

The court refused to adjourn the hearing.

Advocate General (AG) KP requested the court to conduct an in-camera hearing into the case. The court remarked, "We have noted the request and will give appropriate decision on it." The AG KP said, "The army has no powers to pick up these persons. The court has also said this."

Justice Jawwad replied, "Do citizens have their fundamental rights or not? You will say 'yes'. If they have rights, how they will be implemented. Federal and provincial governments have to implement them. If they do nothing, the court has to do some thing. The AG and you will assist the court in this regard. We will summon law officers of other provinces to ascertain their viewpoint."

He remarked, "There are one or two things in Protection of Pakistan Ordinance which need to be reviewed necessarily. No one is above law. Your report is not implementation of our orders."

AG KP said fundamental rights have been breached. Justice Jawwad remarked, "Federation would have traced out these persons so far. It has been proved these persons have been lifted illegally."

He remarked, "We cannot leave the matter to commission. Law will take its course. The AG KP should discharge his constitutional obligations. If the government has to resolve the matter, it should do it. We cannot wait any more. Attempt was made to convince us earlier that if we uphold law and constitution, devastation will come. We are not deterred by such things."

He remarked, "How will you control what is going on in Lahore and Karachi. Dead bodies of 25 persons have been found in Khuzdar. This is a question mark on the performance of federal and provincial government." The court adjourned hearing till January 29.


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