ISLAMABAD: The issue of missing persons entered a new phase on Monday when the Supreme Court sought details from the government about Pakistani nationals incarcerated abroad and also asked ‘how many of them have been handed over by us’.
Justice Javed Iqbal posed the question when a three-judge bench headed by him took up petitions of Imran Munir and Mustafa Azam.
‘How many Pakistanis are in foreign prisons and how many of them have been handed over by us,’ Justice Javed Iqbal asked.
He assured the families of missing persons that the Supreme Court had never taken their cases lightly and it would resume hearing their cases from the point where it had left them.
The SC had ordered in 2007 that Imran Munir should be presented in the court to record his statement on the request of a complainant, Amna Masood Janjua, who had come up with handwritten pages from his diary stating that during his captivity in a secret detention cell he had came across a few inmates, including a businessman from Rawalpindi, Masood Janjua, who has been missing since July 30, 2005.
Ms Janjua, chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights group, has been campaigning for the release of detained people, including her husband Masood Janjua. She set up a protest camp outside the Supreme Court, but closed it after the resumption of hearing of the case.
‘No institution has the right to take an extra-constitutional step,’ the bench observed. It wondered why trial of persons detained by intelligence agencies after properly registering cases against them was avoided.
‘The concept of illegal detention, like the concept of the law of necessity, should end now,’ Justice Javed observed.
He said he intended to request the chief justice to fix all such cases for hearing as early as possible. ‘We will go to any extent to resolve the matter,’ he said.
At the outset of Monday’s proceedings, the court disposed of a case and ordered that Imran Munir should be shifted to the Adiyala Jail in Rawalpindi, but his custody should not be given to any agency.
But Imran Munir turned up before the court later, pleading that he should be heard because he had no prior intimation about the hearing of the case.
Ms Janjua also requested that Mr Munir should be heard because he was an important witness who had seen her husband.
The bench changed its earlier order and said Mr Imran should be taken back to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) where he was being treated.
In Mustafa Azam’s case, the court summoned the interior secretary and Sindh’s home secretary and inspector general of prisons on Nov 18.
Imran Munir was convicted to eight years’ jail by the Field General Court Martial for espionage, but his conviction was set aside.
The government had denied his custody before the Lahore High Court in 2006, but later admitted that he was facing charges of spying.
The Supreme Court had ordered the then Islamabad police chief Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed to personally take the custody of Imran Munir and admit him to Pims.