January 09, 2015
Terence J Sigamony
ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday summoned Attorney General for Pakistan on January 12 to assist over the legal questions pertaining to the trial of serving military officers for their alleged role in the missing persons cases.
A two-member bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, was hearing the application of Chairman Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) Nasrullah Baloch. The applicant, who is pursuing the Baloch enforced disappearance cases in the Supreme Court for the last many years, sought protection as he had been receiving threats.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Khawaja while hearing 35 missing persons’ case on May 15 had formulated three questions and also recommended for constituting a larger bench to hear all enforced disappearance cases, wherein military officers were allegedly involved. The bench had made this recommendation to ensure uniform consideration over the questions related to the trial of the military officials.
The questions made are: Firstly, when a person is accused of commission of an offence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and that person is serving in the Pakistan Army, is it the ordinary criminal (forums) courts, set up under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which are to try him, or is it for forums under the Pakistan Army Act to try such an accused?
Secondly, is it the ordinary criminal courts (in the present case, the courts in Malakand) that are obliged to accede to the request made by the army authorities, or is it within the discretion of the ordinary courts to determine whether or not to allow the request of army authorities to transfer the case to them?
Thirdly, if it is for the ordinary forums to exercise discretion in the matter of a request received from the army authorities, what is the basis on which such a request should be considered, and then allowed or declined?
During the hearing, the bench asked the DAG to convey AGP Salman Butt to submit written opinion over these questions in the next hearing. The DAG told that the AGP is busy in a meeting at Prime Minister House regarding ongoing law order situation.
The court observed that they had remarked in its earlier order that it would be appropriate that missing persons should be heard before one larger bench, adding the issue of missing persons’ cases should be resolved.
Meanwhile, the applicant requested the bench to direct the executive authorities for giving protection to Mama Qadeer, who is establishing a protesting camp in front of the Karachi Press Club. The bench, however, asked Nasrullah Baloch that Mama Qadeer should himself make a request for getting security.
During the course of proceedings, Sajid Tareen, President Balochistan High Court Bar Association, appreciated another member of the bench Justice Qazi Faez Esa for deciding missing persons cases during his tenure as Chief Justice BHC.