Petition against lawyer’s detention admitted for hearing

Updated Jan 04 2020

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Defence ministry says advocate Rahim was taken into custody under the Pakistan Army Act.  — APP/File
Defence ministry says advocate Rahim was taken into custody under the Pakistan Army Act. — APP/File

RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench on Friday admitted for hearing a petition filed against the detention of retired Lt Col advocate Inamur Rahim who, according to the defence ministry, was taken into custody under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) for alleged violation of the Official Secret Act.

Advocate Rahim had filed numerous petitions for the recovery of missing persons and against administrative order of the army or armed forces. Moreover, he was also the counsel in petitions filed against high-profile court martial proceedings about the GHQ attack and conviction of naval officers and others.

When Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf of the LHC resumed the hearing of the case on Friday, Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti informed the court that advocate Rahim had been taken into custody in accordance with the law.

He, however, failed to satisfy the court on the detention of an army officer years after his retirement from the armed forces. The court later admitted the petition for regular hearing and adjourned the case till Jan 9.

The additional attorney general argued that Section 13 of the PAA empowered the military to investigate retired officers.

But advocate Ahsanuddin Sheikh, the counsel for Lt Col Rahim’s family, contended that Section 13 could be invoked only when a complaint against the retired officer had already been lodged.

Retired brigadier Wasaf Khan Niazi, another counsel for Lt Col Rahim, in the case, cited different case laws in response to the arguments of Mr Bhatti.

He said that the Army Act was clear about arrest of a retired officer, whereas Mr Rahim had been taken into custody in violation of relevant sections of the PAA.

At this point, the court adjourned the proceedings for a while and then resumed it again.

Justice Rauf observed that since the matter was related to habeas corpus, the court needed time to examine several legal questions. The judge then adjourned the hearing till next week.

According to an FIR registered in connection with the alleged kidnapping of the lawyer, Lt Col Rahim had been picked up by unknown persons from his residence in Askari 14, which is considered a secured locality in the garrison city.

The FIR states that advocate Rahim was asleep when unidentified individuals trespassed into his residence and forcibly abducted him while extending threats to other family members. Since Dec 17, Lt Col Rahim’s whereabouts were not known.

During the hearing on Thursday, the defence ministry had admitted that the lawyer was in its custody and he was being probed for alleged violation of the Official Secret Act.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2020