QUETTA, July 12: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has warned that the Supreme Court should not be forced to issue orders for appearance of commandants and other senior officers of the Frontier Corps before magistrates in connection with missing persons’ cases, observing that so far there had been no response to directives of the court to produce missing persons before it.
The apex court was hearing a petition of the Balochistan Bar Association over the law and order situation and missing persons here on Thursday.
A bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawad S. Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, observed that police and Frontier Corps had failed to restore law and order and recover missing persons.
“Performance of police and FC is very disappointing. Both institutions have failed to bring peace and order in the province and to recover missing persons,” Justice Chaudhry remarked.
The court ordered that the Commandants of Chagai Militia and the Kalat Scouts, Lt Col Tariq and Major Tahir, should appear before the court on Friday in connection with disappearance of Ali Hassan Mengal from the Wadh area of Khuzdar district.
The court also asked the Balochistan chief secretary to set up a committee to investigate the Totak incident of Khuzdar district and order the arrest of the accused immediately and directed the committee to submit its report within three days.
Referring to the abduction of Abdul Malik from Noshki, the chief justice rebuked Raja Irshad, lawyer of the Frontier Corps, for not obeying orders of the court to produce the missing man. “The court does not have time to order an inquiry into every case.”
Justice Jawad S. Khwaja told the FC counsel that he was violating the court’s directives.
Raja Irshad submitted that Abdul Malik was not in the custody of FC.
The chief justice remarked that an inquiry was held into the case on orders of the apex court and there was evidence that the FC had picked up Abdul Malik. He said the FC’s attitude would one day force the court to order its officials to appear before judicial magistrates.
“If the chief of army staff can appear before the Supreme Court, why FC commandants are violating the court orders by not appearing before it,” the chief justice said, adding that the FC commandants would have to appear before the court at all cost.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain warned that the court would adopt “some other way” to summon officials of the Frontier Corps.
The FC lawyer requested the court to grant one more day. Justice Jawad S. Khwaja said despite the passage of one month and seven days there was no response from the FC, wondering what would happen in a day.
The chief justice said the court wanted that the writ of law should be enforced. He wondered why the provincial government was unaware that people were being picked up.
Deputy Attorney General Shafi Muhammad Chandio submitted that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf would visit Quetta to hold a meeting on the issue of missing persons and the law and order situation in Balochistan.
Referring to the kidnapping of Mehmood-ul-Hasan from the Dalbandin area of Chagai district, the chief justice took serious notice of the incident and ordered Balochistan’s inspector general of police to go to Dalbandin for the recovery of Mr Hasan, who has been kept in Faisal Town.
The chief justice said police was reluctant to recover Mr Hasan because a provincial minister was among the accused in the case. He granted one week’s time and directed that police and FC should be used for the recovery of Mr Hasan.
Qambar Dashti, the Commissioner of the Quetta Division, assured the court that he was ready to provide police and FC force for the recovery of Mr Hasan.
Chief Justice Chaudhry expressed anger over the performance of police and said they had failed to control crime even in five per cent area of the province while levies forces had been looking after 95 per cent of the area where crime rate was lower.
“When law enforcement agencies fail to trace out a person they put all responsibility on the BLA or any other organisation,” Justice Chaudhry remarked.
He said the IGP could do everything. “If he is willing, he can produce a missing person the next day.”
The court directed the authorities concerned that if there was no evidence against provincial home minister Mir Zafarullah Zehri in kidnapping of a person, the case should be transferred to the high court.
The counsel for Mr Zehri denied all allegations against his client.
During the hearing of the case of Iqbal Baloch, Kabir Baloch, Aataullah and Sa’adullah, the chief justice said that all these people had recorded their statements with the court that they were picked up by the FC and taken to Qulli camp.
The government requested the court to give some time for investigation into the case. The request was granted.
The chief justice asked about progress made in the Zakir Majid case as security forces, Inter-Service Intelligence and Military Intelligence had been levelling allegations against each other regarding this matter.
He told the Balochistan chief secretary that if the apex court avoided conducting hearing into the missing persons’ cases, desperation among the masses would lead to demonstrations and rallies.
The chief justice said the apex court would issue orders for the arrest of officials and security personnel if there was strong evidence about involvement of FC in disappearance of people.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the investigation report into the murder case of Mir Haqmal Raisani, the Balochistan chief minister’s nephew, the Supreme Court ordered CID Deputy Inspector General Saleem Lehri to conduct a probe.
The hearing will resume on Friday.