ISLAMABAD - A three-member bench, hearing Adiala Jail prisoners allegedly picked up by the agencies from outside the jail after their release, observed on Tuesday that without evidence no one could be detained even for a second.

The court questioned why they were shifted to internment centres when there was no evidence against them. The chief justice asked the counsel for ISI and MI, “If you don’t like the Constitution, get the articles regarding fundamental rights abolished as in the presence of these articles you can’t detain anyone unconstitutionally and illegally,” he added.

The court directed Attorney General for Pakistan Irfan Qadir to seek instructions from the authorities concerned and then submit a report pertaining to illegal detention of the Adiala Jail prisoners. The court said if the attorney general failed to get instructions, it would have to issue an order.

During the last hearing, the counsel for the intelligence agencies was asked to resolve the matter of illegal detention of missing inmates of Adiala Jail in the interment centres in KPK, but he even failed to provide review record of the detained prisoners.

The attorney general told the bench that since he was busy in Pakistan Bar Council’s election as a returning officer, he could not contact the authorities concerned on the issue. He asked the court to give a one-week. The court, instead of accepting his request, directed him to submit the report by January 24 and adjourned the hearing.

Earlier, the Fata secretary told the court that after a meeting of security officials, the Adiala Jail prisoners were detained in the internment centres and their record would be at those centres. The chief justice asked him to get the law changed to assume the court’s powers and keep anyone into custody. He said: “The prisoners had been into the custody of the agencies for one year and now they have been detained in the internment centres.

Counsel for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) Raja Irshad said as there was no sufficient evidence against the prisoners, they could not be tried under the Army Act and were shifted to internment centres. The Fata secretary said one kalashnikov, two grenades and two magazines had been recovered from them.

The chief justice directed him to produce the order of any relevant authority under which they could be detained for an indefinite period. The court remarked they should have been shifted to jail instead of keeping them in internment centres, if there was any evidence against them.

Raja Irshad submitted that the prisoners had been detained there in the national interest. He added the court should ask the detention centres’ officials why they had accepted the detention of these prisoners.

INP adds: Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday ordered release of the Adiala Jail prisoners if there was no evidence against them.

The CJP had given the authorities concerned 24 hours to resolve the matter. During the hearing, the chief justice said the held persons should have been jailed if evidence was found against them, but on the contrary, the military agencies could not find evidence against them and sent them to the detention centres. The CJP asked Counsel for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Raja Irshad to present the copy of the order that had authorised them to detain suspects for an indefinite period.

He said apparently the statements of recovering grenades, kalashnikovs and magazines seemed fabricated and added any one found possessing even a knife must be produced in a court.

Raja Irshad said all the accused had been sent to the detention centres according to the law. On this, the CJ reprimanded the ISI counsel and said that clauses regarding fair trial and fundamental rights should be eliminated and, if left to their discretion, there would be no courts in the country.

He ordered immediate release of the held persons if no evidence had been found against them. Raja Irshad contended the court should ask the detention centres why they had accepted the detention.

Raja Irshad said the intelligence agencies were convinced that the prisoners of Adiala jail were involved in terrorist activities. Tariq Asad, counsel for petitioners, said the the counsel for the agencies had given in writing that these people were involved in terrorist activities and would be tried under Army Act.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said action would be taken against those responsible for detention if it was proved illegal. The deputy attorney general said the Review Board evaluates every case after 120 days after shifting of a person to a detention centre.