PESHAWAR, Sept 12: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday asked the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to ensure immediate end to the dumping of human bodies in gunnysacks in Peshawar and adjoining districts and said it would act against them in line with the Constitution if they failed to do so.
It later adjourned hearing to Sept 27.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser took exception to the non-appearance of senior state functionaries and their failure to submit replies to the show cause notices issued to them during last hearing on Aug 16, and observed that their indifference showed that they were scared of the elements involved in such acts.
“At the moment, we will exercise restraint but both the governments should understand it will be the last chance to suppress this mischief and continue to rule otherwise they will face consequences ordained by the Constitution,” it said in its orders.
The chief justice observed that the governments couldn’t protect life and liberty of citizens that was their constitutional obligation, then they had no right to be in office.
“If they are blind, deaf and dumb, they have no right to remain in office,” he said.
The chief justice asked a deputy attorney general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general why the two governments should not be declared illegitimate.
“The continuous dumping of these bodies appears to be a replay of the Balochistan episode but we will not permit it at any cost,” he said.
He expressed annoyance at recovery of more bodies in gunnysacks after the court took notice of the matter.
The chief justice asked: “What message these elements are trying to convey to us?”
The bench was informed by the relevant officials that during last couple of weeks, around 24 bodies stuffed in gunnysacks were recovered from different parts of Peshawar and adjoining districts.
The human rights cell of the court had referred the issue to the chief justice last month after report that 16 bodies were recovered.
During previous hearing of the case, the court had issued show cause notices to several officials, including the federal secretaries of defence, interior, cabinet and Safron (State and Frontier Region) ministry; PSO to prime minister; secretaries to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor and chief minister; the provincial chief secretary and home secretary; provincial police officer, capital city police officer (CCPO) and the additional chief secretary of Fata Secretariat. The bench ordered them to explain why they sat quiet for such a long period on such alarming issue.
In its order on Wednesday, the bench observed: “It appears either for some ulterior consideration and expected future political loses neither the provincial nor the federal government have moved an inch to take the matter seriously and to begin a high-level inquiry into the killings of citizens whose bodies stuffed in gunnysacks are thrown in fields in a highly undignified and disgraceful manner.”
It is added that at present the court was not having knowledge whether these were custodial killings or otherwise, however the apathy and indifference shown by both governments was a strong indicator towards fact that they were frightened of inquiry into these incidents because of involvement of some force doing make or break of government in future.
Special secretary of home department Alamgir Shah, CCPO Imtiaz Altaf and superintendent of police (investigation) Sajid Mohmand and other officials failed to provide any satisfactory reply to the bench when several queries were put to them about why they had failed so far in investigating these cases.
When the chief justice asked the police officials and others whether any minister of the federal or provincial governments had contacted them so far on this issue, they replied in negative. The chief justice also hinted that three senior police officials were also involved in such like activities and he had been collecting evidence against them following which action would be taken.
Advocate general Khalid Khan and deputy attorney general Mohammad Iqbal Mohmand requested the bench not to take any action against the governments and instead give him time to convey the court’s displeasure to them.
The chief justice observed: “The constitutional command this court and state functionaries to ensure and protect life and liberty of citizens, hence no let and loose policy will be adopted in this detestable crime which has now being repeated in this province.”
Meanwhile, the bench also took notice of the deaths of detainees in custody of security forces and law-enforcement agencies and ordered the provincial government to form a standing medical board comprising specialists in the field, which would conduct autopsy in every case of custodial death.
The bench observed that it had noticed that in some areas, especially Swat, bodies of detainees were handed over to their relatives for burial without autopsy.
It ordered the government to submit periodical report to the human rights cell of the high court regarding autopsy conducted of any death in custody.
It said all respective commissioners and district coordination officers would be held responsible if autopsy of any deceased was not conducted and the report regarding cause of his or her death was not submitted to the court.