• Petitioner Mohiuddin Khan states his daughter-in-law and two grandsons are being kept in a camp
• Counsel asked to satisfy court about its territorial jurisdiction to entertain plea

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has sought arguments about the court’s territorial jurisdiction to entertain a petition seeking recovery of a Pakistani family said to be detained in Syria.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto observed that the alleged detainees were in Syria and beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the SHC.

Mohiuddin Khan had petitioned the SHC by invoking the constitutional jurisdiction of the court and asked it to issue directives to the ministry of foreign affairs and other respondents for recovery of his daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

The lawyer for the petitioner moved an application for an early hearing on the main petition and submitted that there was urgency in the matter.

The bench in its order also noted that under Article 199 of the Constitution, a high court may, if it was satisfied that no other adequate remedy was provided by law, make an order on the application of any aggrieved party by directing a person, performing functions in connection with the affairs of federation and a province or local authority within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, to refrain from doing anything not permitted by the law.

“But in the present case alleged detenues are at Syria beyond the territorial jurisdiction of this court. Counsel for the petitioner is directed to satisfy the court about territorial jurisdiction to entertain this petition. Matter is already fixed for 23.05.2024,” it added.

Citing the ministry of foreign affairs, director general of the directorate of passport and immigration and Pakistan embassy in Syria as respondents, the petitioner submitted that his son, Mohammad Kamran, was a petroleum engineer and in 2014 he along with his family had moved to Turkiye for the purpose of a job and an oil company had deputed him in the oilfields near Syria.

However, he contended that later, the area in question was found to be in Syria and occupied by the militant Islamic State group and after the defeat of the IS his son and family were detained by Kurd militants.

He also maintained that as per media reports, around 200 Pakistani families were killed in Syria war and around 250 Pakistani nationals were detained by Kurd militants.

The petitioner maintained that he had approached the Kurd militants, and they informed him that whereabouts of his son were still not known but his daughter-in-law, Qurat-ul-Ain, and two grandsons, Ashar and Abdul Rehman, were being kept in a camp in Syria.

He said that the militants advised him to approach the Pakistan Embassy in Syria or the government for their repatriation.

Thereafter, the petitioner submitted that he had approached the Pakistani authorities, but to no avail.

He asked the SHC to issue directives for respondents to make efforts for repatriation since the detained family belonged to Pakistan having fundamental rights and the state was bound to protect the same.

About the maintainability of the petition, petitioner’s lawyer Usman Farooq submitted that in the past, high courts had issued directives in various identical petitions.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2024

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