General

Chief justice constitutes special bench to monitor missing persons commission

The chief justice on Wednesday formed a two-member special bench to hear the missing persons case and monitor the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.
The bench, that includes Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, will also hear cases of missing persons in addition to monitoring the commission.
As the hearing of a case pertaining to missing persons went under way today, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that he was aware of the suffering of the families of missing persons. “If the need arises, I will sit on the special bench,” he said.
Advocate Colonel (retd) Inam-ur-Raheem then remarked that missing persons have not been produced for years despite orders. In response, the chief justice expressed his displeasure at the failure of authorities to follow orders.
During the hearing, the mother of a man who is missing since nine years pleaded with the chief justice to find her son. “My son’s eight daughters are waiting for him. After God, we only have you to come to with our request to recover my son,” she said.
In response, a representative of the Ministry of Defence apprised the court that the woman’s son was not in the department’s custody. “We have submitted a report to the court in this regard,” they said.
The defence ministry’s representative further said that the security agencies did not have any data on the missing persons. “These people are not being held by the security agencies,” they informed the apex court.
The chief justice then reminded them that the security agencies were liable to cooperate after production orders for the missing persons were issued.
“You want us to leave the proofs unnoticed and consider that the response of security agencies is final,” Justice Nisar said to the defence ministry representative. “But people are in pain and we cannot let them suffer. This is against my nature.”
At this point, Advocate Col (retd) Raheem said reports have been received that the police’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) is picking up citizens.
The chief justice then noted that the matter of missing persons was very sensitive and he was looking into it in ‘personal capacity’. Justice Nisar further observed that attempts were being made to portray the country in a bad light by defaming security agencies.
As today’s proceedings moved forward, Chairperson of Defence of Human Rights Pakistan Amina Masood Janjua reminded the court that the commission started with 135 cases nine years ago. “The number of cases has increased to 5,000 as of now,” she noted.
Later, Justice Nisar assured all respondents to the case that higher level officials are in agreement that the matter should be resolved.