In compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders, the spy agencies on Monday produced in court the seven missing prisoners who had been detained after their release from Adiala Jail in 2010. A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez heard the case. Raja Muhammad Irshad, counsel for the intelligence agencies, produced the detainees, namely Mazhar-ul-Haq, Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Muhammad Shafiq, Dr Niaz Ahmed, Abdul Majeed, Gulroze and Abdul Basit. The first three, according to Irshad’s statement, were brought from the Parachinnar Internment Centre, whereas the other four were brought from Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.
The court directed Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq and Irshad to procure records to satisfy the court about their detention prior to January 26, 2012 and also as to whether they were proceeded against under any provision of law and if so, what was the result. The court also ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir to collect the relevant record to inform the court under what circumstances the detainees were allowed to be admitted in the internment centre by the internment authority (KP governor) because such action could not be taken in a mechanical manner but had to be taken through an order passed by applying the judicial mind, as according to the regulations there were pro forma to be filled in before admitting anyone to an internment centre.
During the hearing, the court expressed its dismay with Irshad and asked him why his clients had not produced the prisoners before the bench at the last hearing. “Keep in mind that the court will not run according to your wishes,” the chief justice told Irshad. He said despite the fact that judicial timings had run out, the bench had still sat down to hear the case but the prisoners were not produced. He also directed Irshad to give a written explanation in the matter. The counsel for the agencies stated that on February 10, 2012, when the case was taken up, arrangements were being made to bring the detainees from Parachinnar to Islamabad, but owing to poor visibility because of snowfall, the helicopter was not in a position to operate. He said as soon as the weather allowed, the helicopter brought the detainees to Islamabad along with the four detainees admitted to Lady Reading Hospital, but in the meantime the court proceedings had came to an end. Dastagir, who appeared on behalf of the internment authority, pointed out that the prisoners were in detention with effect from January 26, 2012 and had been kept in FC Fort, Parachinar, which was a notified internment centre.
To a court query, Irshad stated that these detainees were brought from the hospital where they were under treatment. He also submitted reports in this regard. After examining the reports, the court noticed that the detainees were not in good health and three of them needed an examination by medical authorities.
The chief secretary undertook that the three detainees would be admitted to the hospital and a medical board would be formed to examine them. Proper medical treatment as well as food would be provided to them and meanwhile they would not be shifted to the internment centre as long the matter was pending in court, he added. He also undertook to arrange meetings of the detainees with their families in accordance with rules and regulations, subject to their security and safety.
The court noted in its order that in the last hearing of the case, it had directed the chief secretary to state whether an oversight board had been formed in terms of Article 14 of the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation of 2011 and he placed on record a notification of August 12, 2011, according to which a board has been constituted. However, he told the court that as far as he knew, the oversight board had not examined the detainees’ cases nor visited them, as they were brought into the internment centre on January 26, 2012.
The court noted that the chief secretary may ask the board to examine their cases under Article 14 of the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011. The court directed the secretary to submit his report on the health and general conditions of all the seven detainees after every four days to the SC registrar for the court’s perusal in chambers and adjourned the hearing until March 1.