ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), who is also heading the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, commonly known as the missing persons commission, is facing a contempt of court petition for not complying with an order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the IHC on May 11, 2017, ordered the commission to provide the relevant record of proceedings in the case of a missing person, Khalid Mehmood.

Sakina Begum through her counsel Maulana Wajihullah has now filed a petition in the IHC seeking contempt of court proceedings against retired Justice Javed Iqbal as well as Fareed Ahmed Khan, the secretary of the commission, for not complying with the order.

The petition stated that on March 21, 2015, about 20 officials wearing military and police uniforms trespassed into the petitioner’s residence in the Ferozpura area of Rawalpindi and abducted Mr Mehmood.

Commission head did not provide copies of proceedings to a relative of missing man as directed by IHC, petition says

The federal government set up the commission in February 2011 and appointed retired Justice Javed Iqbal as its head. According to the website of the commission, its stakeholders included the armed forces, Inter Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and the ministries of defence, interior and law.

Justice Iqbal is still holding the office and did not relinquish the charge even after his appointment as the chairman of NAB in October last year.

According to the commission’s latest report, there are still 1,640 persons missing across the country. Since March 2018, the commission has traced 2,380 cases while 774 cases were disposed of for being irrelevant or for non-prosecution. As per the official statistics of the commission, 116 people went missing in February this year.

Amna Masood Janjua, the chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation working for missing persons, termed the performance of the commission disappointing.

According to her, the agencies used the commission as a post office. Instead of releasing missing persons, they just inform their legal heirs about the internment centres where they had been kept.

Upon receipt of this information, the commission promptly disposed of the case saying the person is not missing and has been traced, she said.

Ms Janjua criticised the government for not replacing retired Justice Iqbal after his appointment as the NAB chairman since he could not spare time to hear missing persons’ cases.

When the matter of Mr Mehmood was taken to the missing persons’ commission, spy agencies informed it that he had been detained for anti-state activities and was in the custody of law enforcement agencies.

The petitioner then requested the commission to provide her certified copies of the entire proceedings, which was denied.

Sakina Begum then filed a petition in the IHC and Justice Kayani directed the respondents, the chairman and the secretary of the commission, to provide the required documents to the petitioner.

The contempt petition stated that “non-implementation of the direction dated May 11, 2017, passed by this Honorable court tantamount to committing contempt of said order.

The respondents [retired Justice Javed Iqbal and Fareed Khan] intentionally, willfully and malafidely completely ignored the order of this Honorable Court.”

The petition requested the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against both the respondents.

The IHC single-member bench will take up the plea on Friday (today).

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2018

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