Focal person named for missing person cases in high court
PESHAWAR: The federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments have jointly named the provincial home secretary as their focal person for the ‘missing person’ cases pending with the Peshawar High Court, a bench was informed on Thursday.
Representatives of the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments told Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ikramullah Khan that the home secretary would be represented by the director (legal) of the home department and that he would appear before the court in missing person cases.
After becoming the high court chief justice in Dec 2016, Justice Yahya Afridi had issued several guidelines to the interior and defence ministries and provincial home department asking them to produce relevant information expeditiously for early disposal of missing person cases.
On Feb 16, the chief justice had directed the defence and interior secretaries and home secretary to produce without further delay the details of all missing persons whose cases were pending with the court.
The court had directed the federal and provincial governments that their report should be specific about a detainee held by the federal or provincial agency at a particular place.
When the bench took up for hearing some habeas corpus petitions filed by the close family members of ‘missing persons’ including Amroudah Bibi and others, the bench asked deputy attorney general Mussaratullah Khan and additional advocate general Waqar Ahmad Khan about the steps taken by both the governments in light of the guidelines issued by it on the matter.
The bench also asked about the developments taken place after the Feb 16 hearings into these cases.
The chief justice observed that the court was eager to dispose of those cases at the earliest and that instead of different official appearing on behalf of different respondents, it would be appropriate that a single officer should act like focal person.
The DAG, AAG, defence ministry director (legal) and interior ministry section officer informed the court that a meeting had taken place between the three secretaries in question wherein it was decided that from now onwards, the home secretary would act as the focal person in those cases before the high court.
They added that the director (legal) of the home department, Saleem Khan, would represent the home secretary and provide information in those cases after receiving it from the relevant quarters.
They said it took a lot of time to trace detainees in those old cases in which the whereabouts of the detainees were not known.
They however added that when the detainees were kept in an internment centre, it was much easier to receive the required information and that new cases had been filed due to which getting the required information had become more time consuming.
The bench observed that in cases in which a missing person was kept in an internment centre and his relatives confirmed it, it would be binding to submit the report within five days.
It added that in cases pending for around three years and in which whereabouts of the people were not known, the report should be submitted in the next 30 days to explain whether the detainee was in the custody of any of the security agency.
The bench observed that in case a detainee was traced in custody of any agency, proper information should be given about the stage in which his case was.
The representative of the defence ministry said he had received a list of old cases of around 142 missing persons and that in most of them, replies had been prepared.
The bench directed the additional registrar (judicial) of the high court to provide in time the information to the relevant departments about the dates fixed for hearing of different cases and that on weekly basis, he should only seek report in 10 cases of missing persons.
The bench fixed Mar 7 for next hearing of different cases of missing persons.