Judicial commission to probe disappearances
Lets see what happens? Hopefully some justice will be done with them. The behavior of the army seems to be as if they are untouchables and no one can ask anything about their wrong actions.
Judicial commission to probe disappearances :DAWN
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: A high-powered judicial commission comprising three retired superior court judges will be set up soon to look into the highly emotive issue of missing persons, the Supreme Court was informed here on Thursday.
“I have received the summary for the establishment of the commission,” Attorney General Anwar Mansoor told a bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Mohammad Sair Ali and Justice Tariq Parvez that is hearing cases of a large number of missing persons whose families have been running from pillar to post since 2005.
The attorney general said the commission would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and two retired high court judges would be its members.
He said the commission could call any senior officer of the armed forces or Rangers whose name had surfaced in connection with any missing person.
Its orders would be binding on all departments and institutions, he said.
Praising the setting up of the commission, the bench expressed willingness to take action against people held responsible by it.
“If a department is found committing an illegality, the Supreme Court will not condone its acts,” Justice Javed said.
An unpleasant incident took place during the proceedings when Advocate Hashmat Habib, pleading the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, accused the Defence Ministry’s Legal Director Lt-Col Sarfraz Ahmed of having threatened to teach him a lesson for maligning defence institutions.
Although Lt-Col Sarfraz later tendered an unconditional apology before a visibly disturbed court that had re-assembled after retiring for a few minutes, the officer explained that he had asked the counsel not to drag the army which was defending the borders into the case, rather point out specifically if he had any grievance against any agency.
“The sanctity of this court is like a God’s house and our job is to protect whosoever enters it. How could you threaten him?” Justice Sair asked. He said the officer had brought the court into disrepute.
“The army does not belong to you alone but also to us,” Justice Tariq said.
When the court asked about a report submitted by the Foreign Office that 6,000 Pakistani nationals were languishing in foreign jails, the attorney general sought two weeks time to tally the figure with other reports. The Foreign Office was also asked to make its report more comprehensive.
“A lot of grievances of the families of the missing people would be resolved if they are allowed to visit their relatives,” Justice Tariq said.
Justice Javed said the record of missing people available with different departments should be referred to the judicial commission.
Amina Masood Janjua, chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights group, who has been campaigning for the release of detained people, including her missing husband Masood Janjua, requested the court to continue hearing the cases instead of transferring them to the commission.
However, the court observed that the decision to set up the commission was a good step because now there would be two forums.
“You are not aware of stringent procedures; the SC is not a forum to record evidence; we have to find a recourse leading to a solution,” Justice Sair said.
Justice Javed said the phenomenon of missing persons should end now.
He said parliament had taken cognisance of the issue and “let’s see what kind of legislation it makes”.
When Mrs Janjua requested the court to issue directives to parliament for the early setting up of the commission, Justice Javed said parliament was supreme and no one could make it accountable unless an attempt was made to change the basic structure of the Constitution. “We are product of the Constitution framed by parliament,” he said.
He said parliament was entitled to bring any kind of legislation and the court could not cross certain barriers.
Justice Sair said the apex court would monitor and supervise the commission.
“The commission will start its proceedings from where we leave,” Justice Javed said, adding that the court would not dissociate itself from the process.
Justice Sair said the move would mean sharing the burden and not shifting it.
When Justice Javed recalled that 237 missing people had been traced, the attorney general said certain people whose names were on the list had gone for jihad and many were hiding abroad to evade arrests.
Referring to the missing people of Balochistan, Justice Javed said the court would not allow anyone to take political mileage out of the issue. He asked the media to verify facts before highlighting the cases because exaggerated figures created panic.
Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission (HRCP), asked the court to make the intelligence agencies accountable for their involvement in the cases.
Rawalpindi SP Kamran Adil said senior officers of the armed forces had recorded their statement before a joint investigation team constituted to locate Mr Janjua.
Advocate Raja Bashir, representing the defence ministry, said Mrs Janjua’s contentions were based on hearsay, what she had heard from others and not seen herself.
He said an FIR had been registered and recording of evidence at an appropriate forum would start soon about her husband’s disappearance.
Mrs Janjua said her objective was not to embarrass any institution, but to get her grievance addressed.
The court summoned the Islamabad chief commissioner and police chief and complete record about the number of casualties during the July 2007 Lal Masjid standoff when girl students of Jamia Hafsa had occupied the adjacent Children’s Library in protest against the razing of seven mosques. Several people were killed in battles between security personnel and students at the mosque.
The court also clarified that Dr Aafia’s case did not fall in the category of missing people and media- and public-driven campaigns were not suitable for judicial findings.
Justice Javed observed that the sincerity of the government should not be doubted because it had engaged good counsel to defend Dr Aafia in the US.
The bench adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Court temporarily adjourns hearing :The Nation
By: Farehia Rehman
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily adjourned hearing of the missing persons case for almost ten minutes after an army man threatened a senior lawyer. According to details, Legal Director of the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant Cornel Sarfraz threatened to Hashmat Habib during the break for commenting about the Army in the court.
After the break as proceedings started again, Habib Advocate appeared before the court and told about the incident occurred during the break. On which, three-member bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal took strict notice of it and asked Sarfraz to tell the court why he did this.
On this, he told, “I did not threaten him in this sense, I was just asking him not to pass comments about Pakistan army in the court”. On which, Justice Javed Iqbal remarked that it is their Army too and commenting against the Army is contempt of the institutions.
He continued that the institutions could have good and bad qualities. Services of the Pakistan Army and secret agencies are appreciable, he added.
“We will protect everyone, whoever enters the court”, he said and further added that the people, who are taking part in the proceedings, are talking with facts and figures.
He said that the court was like mosque, where everyone could get protection and justice and everyone should respect the court.
Over the situation Justice Muhammad Sair Ali adjourned the proceedings for ten minutes saying that they could not continue till the matter was resolved.
As proceedings started after ten minutes, Lieutenant Cornel Sarfraz apologised for his behaviour, which was also accepted by the Senior Advocate Hashmat Habib.