RAWALPINDI, Oct 9: Judicial reforms seem to be finally trickling down as an additional sessions’ judge of Rawalpindi summoned Director General (DG) Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), over a petition seeking registration of criminal cases against them.
The petition was filed in regard to a mysterious death of a prisoner which occurred while he was in custody of military authorities. The senior officers have been summoned for a hearing on October 15.
The additional sessions judge Naveed Iqbal also directed former superintendent of Adiala Jail Saeeullah Gondal and his deputy Khalid Bashir to appear before the court on the said date.
Although the case boomeranged back from a higher court. Earlier in July, the district and sessions judge of Rawalpindi had dismissed the same petition for registering a criminal case against the spymasters and the petitioner then headed towards the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench, in August.
LHC Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed on September 12, 2012 remanded the case back to the sessions’ court for passing an appropriate order, after re-examining the entire facts.
Studying the history of the petition, a whole family saga unfolds. The daring petition was filed by Mufti Abdul Shakoor, elder brother of Abdul Saboor — the prisoner who died on January 21, 2012 — while in custody of military authorities in Peshawar.
According to the petition, Saboor had been picked up by intelligence agencies on Nov 25, 2007, along with his younger brothers Abdul Basit and Abdul Majid from Lahore.
Although the million dollar question being: will the senior military officers appear in court, when in the past they had deigned not to appear in front of the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court in January this year while hearing an identical matter had issued notices to DG ISI and MI but they did not appear before the court.
Instead officials of the defence ministry and judge advocate general (JAG) — from the legal branch of army — represented them in the court.
Then another precedent was set during the memo probe. The memo commission issued notice to the former DG ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha — prior to his retirement — to appear. But he only condescended to appear after his retirement as a civilian.
While back at the sessions’
court, the counsel of the petitioner Col (retired) Abdul Aziz Chandio, Lt-Col (retired) Inamur Rahim and Major (retired) Akram appeared before the judge and informed that Saboor, 29, was the fourth civilian detained in the case involving attack on GHQ and ISI Hamza camp to have died, since August 2011.
Earlier three detained prisoners — Muhammad Aamir died on Aug 15, Tahseen Ullah on Dec 17, and Said Arab on Dec 18, 2011— died while they were in custody of military authorities and their bodies were recovered from Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
The petition said military authorities had kept them in illegal confinement and contended that under the Army Act, civilians could be tried only in circumstances gravely affecting the maintenance of discipline in the army.
The petition requested the court for directions to the police for registering criminal cases against the spymasters and the administration of Adiala Jail, who despite getting orders for acquittal of detained prisoners, reportedly handed them over to the spy agencies.
It may be mentioned here that Saboor was among those 11 prisoners who went missing from Adiala Jail, after their acquittal from the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC). The story had made headlines all over the country.
The other detainees included Abdul Basit, Abdul Majid, Dr Niaz Ahmad, Muhammad Aamir, Mazharul Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Muhammad Shafiq, Said Arab, Tahseen Ullah and Gul Roz, were acquitted by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi on April 8, 2008 because of want of evidence.
DCO Rawalpindi then issued their detention order under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.
On May 6, 2010, it was extended for 90 days by the Punjab home secretary, but it was set aside by the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench on May 28, 2010.
The then superintendent of Adiala Jail, Mr Gondal, is reported to have handed over the detainees to ISI and MI.
JAG — on behalf of the army — in May 2011 informed the Supreme Court that the detainees were among the 20 suspects taken into custody from operational areas and were suspected of having close links with terrorists operating in different areas of the country.