ISLAMABAD   -  The Islamabad High Court Wednesday announced its verdict in the case of missing IT expert Sajid Mehmood, directing the investigators to effectively investigate the alleged enforced disappearance.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah announced the 47-page detailed verdict and also directed the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to submit a progress report in this regard on the 15th of every month.

The court also directed the federal government to pay Rs117,500 to the victim family every month as compensation amount, terming the enforced disappearance is one of the most cruel and inhuman acts and categorised as a crime against humanity.

IT expert Sajid Mehmood, a resident of F-10 is missing since March 2016. He is father to three daughters while his wife had filed a petition for the recovery of her husband. She also submitted applications seeking allowance on account of monthly household expenses from the federal government till her husband is recovered.

The court noted in the verdict: “A complaint which alleges or discloses characteristics in the nature of 'enforced disappearance' shall be treated by the respondents as a heinous act and thus dealt with accordingly.” “The Chief Commissioner, vested with powers of a provincial government and the Inspector General of Police, responsible for command of the police force, are and shall be accountable for the lack of response of the criminal justice system according to the required standards in general and in cases alleging acts of 'enforced disappearance' in particular, within their jurisdiction in the Islamabad Capital Territory. The onus shall be on the public functionaries to dispel any impression regarding involvement of the State or its instrumentalities in an alleged abduction,” said the judgment.

It added: “In the event that it is established that the criminal justice system failed in responding promptly, followed by conducting effective investigations into a complaint of a citizen alleging enforced disappearance of a loved one, then the State depending on the facts and circumstances in each case shall become liable to compensate the person if it can be shown that the latter’s fundamental right(s) stand infringed. Any loss suffered by the exchequer on account of payment of compensation shall be recovered from the public functionaries, inter alia, in the case of the Islamabad Capital Territory from the Chief Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police.”

The IHC bench held that it is the duty of the Special Branch, Intelligence Bureau, the Inter Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence to collect information and promptly report 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. It is noted that these instrumentalities of the State are part of the JIT constituted under the Regulations. In the case of failure in fulfilling this duty the respective Sector Commanders shall expose themselves to being accountable and proceeded against.

“The failure of the criminal justice system to promptly respond to the complaint of the petitioner and then to conduct effective investigations stands established in the instant case. Moreover, the attitude and conduct of public functionaries towards the petitioner not being in conformity with the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution is also established and evident from the reports and affidavits brought on record. The State and its functionaries have failed in safeguarding the fundamental right of the petitioner guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution. It is, therefore, an obligation of the State to financially put the petitioner in the same position by way of compensation as existed on the day of occurrence i.e 14-03-2016. The breakup of the expenses amounting to Rs 117,500/- per month placed on record has not been contested by the respondents. However, the Chief Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police shall constitute a joint Committee consisting of senior officers to verify the actual expenses if they have any reservations regarding the break up provided by the petitioner,” the bench maintained in the verdict.

It continued that the said monthly payment shall be made to the petitioner till the State through its functionaries has traced the whereabouts or fate of the detenu. The federal government is directed to conduct an inquiry through an officer not lower in rank than a federal secretary or a committee into the failure of the criminal justice system in the Islamabad Capital Territory as is evident from the facts highlighted above. The inquiry shall also identify the officials responsible for the established failure in the instant case and the loss suffered to the exchequer as payment of maintenance to the petitioner and her three young daughters shall be recovered from such delinquents. The inquiry is directed to be completed within thirty days from the date of receipt of this judgment and a report in this regard shall be submitted by the Secretary interior to the Registrar of this Court.

The judgment said: “The JIT is directed to take appropriate measures and effectively investigate the alleged enforced disappearance in the instant case. The members of the JIT representing the intelligence agencies are directed to trace the whereabouts of the Detenu.

The head of the JIT shall submit a progress report before the Registrar of this court on the 15th of every month.

“Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of this case, this court imposes cost of Rs100,000/- each on Lt. General (Retd) Zamir-ul-Hassan Shah, Secretary Ministry of Defence, Zulfiqar Haider, Chief Commissioner, Islamabad Capital Territory, Khalid Khan Khattak, Inspector General of Police, Islamabad Capital Territory and Capt. (Retd) Mushtaq Ahmed, District Magistrate, Islamabad Capital Territory.

A cost of Rs300,000/- (Rupees three hundred thousand only) is imposed on Qaiser Niaz, Inspector who was the In-charge of Police Station, Shalimar on 14-03-2016,” said the judgment.

It added that the officials named above shall pay the costs through crossed cheques drawn in the name of the petitioner within ten days from the date of announcement of this judgment.

 

 

SHAHID RAO