ISLAMABAD: A two-member division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday suspended a decision that imposed a Rs700,000 fine on senior government officials and police officers for their failure to trace a missing person.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, in July 2018 imposed fines of Rs100,000 each on ex-secretary Ministry of Defence retired Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah, the then Islamabad Chief Commissioner Zulfiqar Haider, former inspector general of police Khalid Khan Khattak and former district magistrate retired Capt Mushtaq Ahmed. Inspector Qaiser Niaz, incharge of Shalimar Police station, from where IT professional, Sajid Mehmood, went missing was fined to the tune of Rs300,000. His wife, Mahera Sajid, through her counsel, Umer Gilani, had filed a writ of habeas corpus in the IHC.
The federal government had appealed against this decision.
On Thursday, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan argued that the government is taking the issue of missing persons seriously since it was a matter of fundamental rights. “I am also in the favour of awarding punishment to those behind enforced disappearances,” he said.
He produced a notification before the IHC bench, headed by Justice Aamer Farooq regarding the report from the cabinet committee on enforced disappearances. The committee will identify reasons behind enforced disappearances and suggest recommendations to fight this menace, he added.
He suggested that the court should wait until the committee finalises its report and requested that the IHC’s earlier decision from 2018, related to the recovery of cost from secretary defence along with others may be suspended.
Advocate Gillani said despite over 40 hearings in this case, state institutions have failed to trace and recover Mehmood, adding, the government has given an undertaking of payment of compensation to the missing person’s wife.
The attorney general argued that if compensation is given in this case, then heirs of every missing person will demand the same and it would become a precedent. He sought six weeks from the court to submit the report.
Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till the first week of March.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2021