Interior secretary earns SHC’s ire in missing persons’ case

Published March 30, 2021
The Sindh High Court on Monday expressed serious resentment with the interior secretary for repeatedly flouting its directives. — Wikimedia Commons/File
The Sindh High Court on Monday expressed serious resentment with the interior secretary for repeatedly flouting its directives. — Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday expressed serious resentment with the interior secretary for repeatedly flouting its directives by not submitting the details of the missing persons kept at internment centres.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha said that apparently the interior secretary was least interested in compliance with the court orders despite the fact that the federal government had showed great concerns about missing persons.

The court granted yet another chance to the interior secretary with a direction to file the list of persons detained in the internment centres before the next hearing.

The court gives the govt officer last chance to file list of persons detained in internment centres

It also asked the top federal law officer to ensure compliance with its orders and warned that in case of further non-compliance, the secretary would be summoned in person and a proper order would be passed in this regard.

When a set of petitions about missing persons came up for hearing, the bench noted that it had ordered the interior secretary to collect the reports from internment centres through the quarters concerned and submit the same before it.

However, an assistant attorney general informed the bench that he had not received any such report from the interior ministry despite faxing the order of the last hearing to the secretary.

The bench observed that the government officials including the federal law officers had been sending letters and calling reports from the ministry, but it failed to reply to the same and thus, the bench had issued directives to the secretary.

It deplored that once again the order of the bench had not been complied with as no reports were on the record and the federal law officer also submitted that despite sending letters no reply had been received yet.

“It appears that secretary, ministry of interior, government of Pakistan, is least interested in compliance with the court’s order despite Federal Government allegedly showing great concern about the missing persons,” the court order said.

The bench said if the documents were not filed on the next hearing by the secretary, he would appear in person before the court and an appropriate order would be passed against him. It added that the bench would take steps for non-compliance with its orders.

It also asked the attorney general to use his best efforts to ensure that the interior secretary must make compliance with the orders and inform him of the consequence of non-compliance.

The bench further observed that the federal law officer had failed to produce information from internment centres in nearly every missing person’s case without any explanation on behalf of the interior ministry.

Last week, the bench had also come down hard on the federal authorities for taking little interest in identical cases and deplored that no legislation had so far been made against enforced disappearances.

It had also remarked that the federal government had been making hue and cry about tracing out the missing persons, but it appeared from the conduct of the interior and defence secretaries that this was only for optics and no practical action was being taken.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2021*

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