IHC slams government’s counsel for seeking adjournment

ISLAMABAD: Warning that no further adjournments would be granted in the case of a man missing from the capital for nearly two years, the Islamabad High Court on Friday ordered the deputy attorney general and the counsel for the chief commissioner’s office to conclude their arguments at the next hearing of the case.

Justice Athar Minallah ordered Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Khalid Mehmood and counsel for the commissioner’s office Umer Hanif Khichi, to conclude arguments on January 12.

“It is noted that adjournment shall not be granted on the next date,” Justice Minallah stated, adding that the counsel for the petitioner has already been heard as he directed to affix the petition for hearing on January 12 “at serial No. 1.”

IT professional Sajid Mehmood, who ran a small firm together with his wife, was abducted from his house in Sector F-10 in front of his family and neighbours in March 2016.

His wife, Mahera, through her counsel Umer Gilani, had filed a writ petition in the IHC to recover her husband. The court has repeatedly directed the police and the intelligence agencies to produce Sajid before the court. However, he remains missing.

Besides the safe recovery of her husband, Mahera has been demanding that the federal government should be held liable for gross negligence in discharging its duty to protect the liberty of her husband. As a consequence, she has demanded that the federal government should be made to pay her and her children a monthly maintenance.

When the case was taken up on Friday, the DAG asked the judge to adjourn the hearing so that he could prepare his reply.

At this, the court accepted his request but stated that there would be no more adjournments.

In his remarks, Justice Minallah said that everyone was equal before the law and that there should not be any difference between the child of a common man or that of the prime minister or the inspector general of police, maintaining that all have equal fundamental rights.

He further said that a minor disciplinary penalty imposed upon the lowest functionary was not sufficient, noting that an “example needs to be set” to prevent enforced disappearances.

Gilani urged the court to expeditiously decide the case and set a strong precedent in all such cases.

Earlier, Islamabad SP (Investigation) Capt (retired) Muhammad Ilyas had submitted a report before the court which concluded that Mehmood appeared to be a victim of enforced disappearance.

The SP had asserted that the evidence in the case did not point in any other direction and that the case falls in the category of enforced disappearance as per “eyewitness accounts” and “no evidence to contrary”.

Previously, in her application seeking maintenance from the government, Mahera stated that the monthly expenses of the dependents of the “missing person” in terms of children’s education, domestic help, utility bills, property tax, food, milk, internet and petrol reached over Rs100,000.

He had prayed the court to direct the secretary interior to provide the petitioner and her daughter’s maintenance amounting to no less than Rs117,500 per month and starting from 14th March 2016 – the day Mehmood was allegedly ‘abducted’ from his home. The court would now resume hearing on January 12. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1601871/1-ihc-slams-governments-counsel-seeking-adjournment/