Rights cases remain focus of Peshawar High Court in 2012 -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Rights cases remain focus of Peshawar High Court in 2012

By: Akhtar Amin

PESHAWAR: The human rights cases remained the focus of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) in 2012 as through the court’s efforts over 900 missing persons were released while around 1,000 — allegedly detained and charged in terrorist activities by the law-enforcing agencies — were shifted to the government’s notified internment centres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court (PHC) Dost Muhammad Khan in his talk with members of the media at start of the year said that 2012 would be the year of “Missing Persons.” The disposal of missing persons’ cases and their release in a large number showed that 2012 was definitely the year of missing persons.

According to official data, over 200 missing persons cases are still pending in the high court. For disposal of the missing persons cases and settling the issue on permanent basis, the chief justice had given a formula to the provincial government and heads of the security and intelligence agencies that the detainees against whom solid evidence about terror acts was available should be placed in ‘black’ category and shifted to the internment centres, those found innocent during investigation be placed in ‘white’ category before being freed and the ones against whom proper evidence was not available but were suspects be put in ‘grey’ category before being handed over to police for further investigation.

In the 2012, the PHC chief justice took several suo moto notices of cases of violation of fundamental human rights. On August 16 he took suo moto notice of the frequent recovery of gunnysacks carrying bodies in the provincial capital and asked the relevant federal and provincial government officials to explain their position in this regard. Some of the bodies were identified as those of the missing persons allegedly picked up by the police and spy agencies.

After the court’s notice, the Health Department started conducting autopsy of the citizens killed extra-judicially. The police also started registering first information reports of the mysterious killings in the city and other parts of the province.

A special team was formed on the court’s directives headed by Senior Superintendent of Police (Investigation) of Special Branch to identify the culprits of this inhuman act so that the court could bring them to justice.

On February 28, the chief justice through suo moto notice and the writ petitions filed by the traders stopped the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) from collecting fuel adjustment charges in the electricity bills of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa consumers. The decision benefitted the common man and traders.

Through suo moto notice, the chief justice also recovered about 1,000 kanals of graveyard land that had been encroached by the powerful land mafia.

In another historic judgment on November 7, the PHC declared appointment of civil judges, judicial magistrates and Illaqa Qazis by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission as unlawful and ruled that appointments of subordinate courts’ judges would be made by the high court.

The PHC also ensured payment of “Shaheed Package” to members paramilitary forces killed in fighting against militants in Fata from the federal government and fixed Rs3 million as compensation for them. Earlier, the government had denied payment of the package to the legal heirs of the martyred Khassadars, Levies personnel and government officials.

Also, for the first time in the country’s history the PHC chief justice established Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy in 2012. Currently, the PHC strength including the chief justice is 13 against the official sanctioned strength of 20. Due to shortage of judges, backlog of cases is still there in the PHC and litigants have to wait for months for hearing the cases.

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