Govt appeals IHC order seeking production of missing person


LAHORE: The federal government has challenged Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Mohsin Kayani’s order seeking the production of a missing person, Abdullah Omar, before the court.

This now becomes the second missing person whose family has been dragged back to court by the government in the past couple of months despite tall claims by PTI’s Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari that the PTI was committed to resolving the issue of enforced disappearances.

Before the appeal against the wife of Abdullah Omar, the wife of missing person Sajid Mehmood, Mahira Sajid, had appeared before the IHC a couple of days ago after the government appealed against an earlier decision of the court that declared enforced disappearances as a “crime against humanity”.

Back in July of this year, IHC’s Justice Athar Minallah gave the landmark verdict, directing the government to provide monetary relief to families of the missing persons, and for the police to get to the bottom of the issue. Quick on the heels of Justice Minallah’s decision in favour of the family of Sajid Mehmood, Justice Mohsin Kayyani had given another significant judgement in the case of Abdullah Omar.

“I am observing with great pain that… Islamabad Police and Ministry of Defense Officials… on every date of hearing have tried to deceive the Court on one pretext or the other. They were mindfully playing hide and seek with the Court, which is fatal for the whole judicial system,” Justice Kayani had written in his decision. “Courts are not meant for simply adjourning matters. Courts are under obligation to enforce fund rights.”

During proceedings of the appeal against the family of Sajid Mehmood, Assistant Attorney General Mumtaz Ali informed the court that about two weeks ago, Justice Kiyani had authored a similar judgement in the case of Abdullah, and that the federal government appealed against the order. Justice Athar Minallah, who is now the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, recused himself from hearing the appeal, saying that his opinion on the matter had already been conveyed when he had delivered his judgement in the Sajid Mehmood case.

A special bench was thus formed to look at the missing persons’ appeals, which comprised Justice Aamer and Justice Mohsin Kayani. However, upon being informed about this, Justice Kayani also stated that he had already disclosed his view and therefore would also like to recuse. Justice Aamer then ordered that the case be referred to IHC Chief Justice Minallah so that he may mark it to the appropriate bench.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Dr Attique Tahir, the lawyer of Abdullah Omar, said that it was the responsibility of the state to make sure that people do not vanish into thin air.

“This is the job of the police mainly. Now that they have been implicated, to save their own skin, they are going after the families of missing persons because they don’t have it in them to blame the actual culprits,” he said.

Expressing shock at the government’s decision to appeal, Umer Gilani, lawyer of Mahira Sajid, said that they had expected the PTI to show goodwill and let the appeal go since it had originally been filed during the time of the caretakers.

“Now with this new appeal against Justice Kayani’s decision the government isn’t even continuing an old appeal but is actively pursuing cases against the families of missing persons,” he told Pakistan Today.

Meanwhile, Assistant Attorney General Mumtaz Ali told Pakistan Today that while the appeal had been filed, he was new to the case and it was premature to predict the intentions of the appeal.

“Things will become clearer as the case unfolds before the special bench that is being constituted,” he commented.