ISLAMABAD: The federal government informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it had decided to release detained lawyer retired colonel Inam-ul-Rahiem provided certain conditions were met.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor told a three-judge SC bench that the government wanted to release Col Inam in view of his health condition.

The bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had taken up a government appeal against the Jan 9 short order in which the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, while hearing a habeas corpus petition of Husnain Inam, son of Col Inam, had declared the detention of the lawyer unlawful.

Col Inam was picked up by the military authorities from his house in Rawalpindi on Dec 17, 2019, and since then he has not been produced before any court.

Col Inam is required to provide password of his laptop, deposit passport with SC registrar and cooperate in investigation

At the last hearing on Jan 14, the apex court had suspended the high court’s order declaring the detention of Advocate Inam as illegal.

On Wednesday, AG Mansoor explained before the apex court that Col Inam had to be taken to hospital due to his health condition and as a result the investigation against him was suffering.

A two-page order issued by the Supreme Court stated that the AG had on instructions said that since the detained lawyer was not keeping good health, so on this ground, it has been decided that he be released but subject to deposit of his passport.

Accordingly, the detained lawyer will be released after depositing his passport with the additional registrar (judicial) of the Supreme Court and that he will associate and continue to cooperate in the inquiry and investigation.

Col Inam is also be required to attend the office of investigators as and when required, but before his release he will be taken to the medical superintended of Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi, who will ensure that the detailed lawyer is examined by a board of doctors of the hospital, the SC order said.

It said the medical report will also be placed before the Supreme Court on the next date of hearing which will be fixed after two weeks for further proceedings.

Soon after the hearing, advocates Sheikh Ehsanuddin and Taufiq Asif, who were pursuing the case of Col Inam, said the lawyer’s family had deposited his passport with the court registrar.

During the hearing, AG Mansoor also put a condition that Col Inam will not leave Rawalpindi-Islamabad.

But the most interesting demand or condition the AG had listed was that Col Inam will have to provide the password of his laptop.

However, the apex court made it clear that it was not concerned with the password as it will not become part of any investigation.

Interestingly, at the last hearing, the attorney general had revealed that information of sensitive nature relating to Pakistan’s nuclear assets, premier intelligence agency — Inter-Services Intelligence — as well as postings of some officers had been retrieved from the laptop of Col Inam which had also been transmitted.

Though the AG had not divulged where the information had been transferred, he volunteered to confide with the court everything provided the proceedings were held in camera.

Mr Mansoor had also alleged that Col Inam was a foreign spy and said the information retrieved from his laptop was of sensitive nature which violated the Official Secrets Act and that he was not alone rather there was a network of spies as a number of other persons had also been arrested and they were being charged.

The Supreme Court had noted in its last order that classified documents in a sealed envelope provided to the court showed that the respondent [Col Inam] was being interrogated under the Official Secrets Act 1923 as well as offences under the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

In the appeal, the secretaries of defence and interior had requested the Supreme Court to suspend the high court order till a final decision by the apex court as investigation against the lawyer was in process. Besides, the appeal said, material evidence had also been collected against Col Inam, which prima facie constituted a case against him.

“Thus the release of the detained person at this stage of investigation will amount to hampering the entire process of investigation involving heinous charges,” it added.

Moreover, the appeal said, the high court was approached through a habeas corpus petition which become infructuous the moment a disclosure was made before the high court that the accused was apprehended by the military authorities under Section 2(1)(d), read with Sections 59 and 73 of the Pakistan Army Act and the Pakistan Army Rules as well as the Official Secrets Act 1923.

Therefore, the high court’s short order was liable to be set aside, the appeal contended, adding that the high court, while passing the Jan 9 short order, had extended final and ultimate relief in haste without recording reasons.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020