KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice to the federal interior secretary for repeatedly flouting its directives by not submitting details of internment centres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regarding missing persons.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha also issued a similar notice to the chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for not complying with its earlier order issued last month to block the CNICs of missing persons.

It directed the interior secretary and the Nadra chairman to appear in person on April 27 along with replies to show-cause notices.

The bench said that on Feb 16, it had directed the interior secretary to collect reports from all internment centres in KP and place before the court, but it was not complied with and on March 25, the court showed judicial restraint and gave a last chance to the secretary to furnish such reports.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, the deputy attorney general said that he had yet to receive any report in this regard.

“Under these circumstances, we have no other option but to issue show-cause notice to secretary, ministry of interior, government of Pakistan, for violating of this court’s orders dated 16.02.2021 and 25.3.2021 as to why he should not be proceeded with for contempt of this court’s orders”, the bench in its order said.

It further stated that on March 22, directives were also issued to chairman of Nadra to block the CNICs of missing persons. However, an investigating officer informed it on Wednesday that the order had not been complied with yet.

The bench, which was hearing a set of petitions moved by relatives of missing persons, during the hearing of another identical petition also expressed resentment over the interior secretary after he through a report contended that the interment centres of KP were not under the administrative control of his department.

The secretary through a federal law officer filed a report in which he submitted that the interment centres were established by the provincial home department and the same came within the administrative control of KP home secretary.

“We found it very surprising and shocking that ministry of interior, which is one of the powerful ministries in this country, cannot get the basic information from the KPK government. It is further stated that the internment centres were under the administrative control of KPK government. However, ministry of interior has power control over KPK government. As recently the ministry was closely involved in the negotiations concerning to the activists of organization known as TLP who carried out demonstrations in Punjab. As such no reasons that the secretary ministry of interior cannot provide us with such basic information, which is held by the government of KPK”, it noted.

The bench directed the interior secretary to produce a list mentioning all interment centres in KP along with the persons held therein so that this court can check the names of these missing persons whose relatives filed petitions seeking their whereabouts.

In the meantime, the bench also asked the advocate general of Sindh to go through each and every missing persons’ case, pending before the SHC, and provide a list of missing persons which should mention the petition numbers, missing persons’ names, CNIC numbers and other information.

It further directed the provincial law officer that this task must be completed before the last hearing and such list be placed before it.

It may be recalled that in an earlier hearing, the bench had also come down hard on the federal authorities for taking little interest in these cases and deplored that no legislation had so far been made against enforced disappearances.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021

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