ISLAMABAD, June 25: The Supreme Court on Monday directed federal interior secretary Kamal Shah and defence secretary Kamran Rasool to file written statements explaining why its order calling for access of a legal counsel to one of the missing people, Imran Munir, had been flouted.
On June 20, the court had summoned interior and defence secretaries to explain non-compliance of the court’s June 6 order regarding facilitating a meeting between Mr Munir and his legal counsel Abdul Mujeeb Pirzada. But instead of arranging the meeting, Mr Munir was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment by the Field General Court Martial on the charge of spying.
On Monday, the Supreme Court questioned the conviction of a civilian (Imran Munir) by the military court and observed that any prosecution under the army law should meet principles of natural justice as enshrined in different judgments of the Supreme Court.
“We will have to see whether the accused was granted the right of defence and the process of trial and conviction was adopted properly,” observed Justice Javed Iqbal.
Mr Munir, 27, went missing 10 months ago and information regarding his whereabouts surfaced when the Supreme Court took notice of enforced disappearances and was told that Mr Munir was facing espionage charges.
In one of the hearings, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Asma Jehangir claimed that Mr Munir had not been arrested for spying, but because of a love affair with a woman related to an officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence.
“The Pakistan Army Act is required to be adhered to in the light of the Supreme Court judgments wherein the principle of natural justice has been interpreted,” Justice Javed Iqbal said.
Deputy Attorney-General Tariq Khokhar told the bench that Major Shahid Israr had been appointed to defend Mr Munir who had contacted Mr Munir’s father before the start of the trial.
However, Abdul Mjueeb Pirzada dispelled the DAG’s submission and said Mr Munir had been kept in illegal detention by army authorities for 10 months and when the Supreme Court took notice of the case, he was summarily tried and convicted.
Saying that Mr Munir was suffering from different ailments, he called for his immediate independent medical check-up.
Colonel Jehangiri, a representative of the armed forces, presented records suggesting that before the start of the trial, a medical fitness certificate of Mr Munir had been duly obtained. However, the court ordered an independent medical examination of Mr Munir at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.
The bench also directed the DAG and the focal person of the Ministry of Interior, Colonel Javed Iqbal Lodhi, to present the record of the case in the chamber if there was anything sensitive or confidential.
During the hearing, a woman came to the rostrum and said she had not been provided a chance to meet her son Imran Ali Naqvi, who had been in custody for one year.
The court took notice of the complaint and directed the DAG to explain under which law meetings of detained people with their relatives were being denied. “I fail to understand why the relatives seek court permission to meet their detained dear ones,” observed Justice Iqbal.
The judge also asked the director-general of National Crisis Management Cell to ensure observance of jail manual if there was no policy in hand.
The case will now be taken up on July 19.