Implementing IHC’s judgment: Missing man’s wife urges PM to release compensation

ISLAMABAD: The wife of a man who had gone missing from the capital over two years ago, wrote to the interim premier on Monday, seeking his help in a having a court order implemented which directs the state to pay monthly compensation and arrears to the missing man’s heirs.

Mahera Sajid, through her counsel Umer Gilani, wrote to Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retired) Nasirul Mulk, directing his attention towards a verdict from Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah from July 11 in which a number of directions were issued to the federal government.

Gilani pleaded that despite the court’s orders, the government has yet to comply with any of the directions contained in the judgment.

“The Constitution promises something to everyone, even to the disappeared and their loved ones,” the counsel stated in the letter.

“It is incumbent upon all of us to deliver on that promise while we still can.”

He said that the inspiring core of the constitution, the undying spark in it, is the promise of justice for all regardless of their station in life.

Referring to a Supreme Court judgment, Gilani said that it is through the prime minister that the federal government exercises its powers.

He said that the prime responsibility for ensuring compliance with the court orders issued to the federal government also falls upon the prime minister. It also follows that the liability for disobedience to court orders will also be personally incurred by the prime minister.

Mahera’s counsel further stated in the letter that caretaker PM — who is a former chief justice of Pakistan — may not be able to do much to solve the issue of enforced disappearance, but ensuring swift compliance with orders of the IHC was very much within the responsibilities of his office.

In his judgment, Justice Minallah had ordered that the state and its functionaries have failed in safeguarding the fundamental right of the petitioner guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution. It had subsequently directed that the petitioner shall be paid Rs117,500 per month or such amount as may be determined pursuant to verification.

The judge further directed that all arrears shall be calculated from March 14, 2016, and paid to the petitioner. He ruled that monthly payments to the petitioner shall continue until the state manages to trace the whereabouts or fate of the missing man.

Gilani said that the court had also directed the federal government to conduct an inquiry into the failure of the criminal justice system in the Islamabad.

Justice Minallah had also penalised a retired general and several civilian officials and directed them to pay a one-time fine.

In the landmark judgment setting a new precedent in missing persons’ cases, Justice Minallah held that “enforced disappearance is one of the cruelest and inhuman acts and categorised as a crime against humanity.”

Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, Justice Minallah imposed a fine of Rs100,000 each on the Ministry of Defence Secretary Lt General (retired) Zamirul Hassan Shah, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Zulfiqar Haider, Inspector General of Police Khalid Khan Khattak and District Magistrate Capt (retired) Mushtaq Ahmed.

“A cost of Rs300,000 … is imposed on Qaiser Niaz, the inspector who was the in-charge of police station Shalimar on March 14, 2016 (when the man went missing),” he added.

In addition, the court had for the first time stated that it was the duty of the Special Branch, civil and military intelligence services to collect information and promptly report it to the concerned functionaries regarding any incident of abduction of a citizen having the characteristics of an ‘enforced disappearance’ and to take effective measures in tracing the whereabouts of the victim.

“In the case of failure in fulfilling this duty the respective sector commanders shall expose themselves to being accountable and proceeded against,” the judge had held.

“It is a matter of deep concern to my client that more than 10 days after the announcement of the Judgment, the federal government has yet to comply with either of the directions issued to it,” Gillani stated in the letter.

He urged the PM to issue a cheque worth Rs3.29 million in favour of Mahera, as arrears for the 28 months her husband has been missing for. Moreover, the interim premier was urged to appoint, within seven days of receiving the letter, appropriate personnel to conduct an inquiry into the disappearance of her husband and issue directions to relevant authorities for recovery of her husband.

Decision challenged

On Monday, it emerged that the Ministry of Defence and police officials mentioned in the case had challenged the judgment.

The case had been fixed for before a two-judge division bench of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Aamer Farooq.

However, on the MoD’s request, the court had adjourned the appeals until next week. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2018.

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