ISI “biggest violators” of law: Pak SC
Last Updated: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 20:58
Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday rapped the ISI and Military Intelligence over the replies submitted by them about the detention of 11 men on terrorism charges, calling them the "biggest violators" of the law.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry voiced its reservations while hearing the case of the 11 men who were detained by the intelligence agencies in May 2010 after being cleared by an anti-terrorism court.

The bench expressed its dissatisfaction with the written replies submitted by the intelligence agencies, in which they alleged the men were involved in several acts of terrorism, including attacks on the Army's General Headquarters in 2009 and an ISI facility in Rawalpindi in 2007.

During the hearing, the bench observed: "You need to take this out of your mind that you (ISI and Military Intelligence) are superior and others are inferior."

The Chief Justice asked Raja Irshad, the lawyer representing the ISI and Military Intelligence: "Under which law have you been detaining them?"

Irshad evaded the query and said the court's concerns were "being conveyed to the authorities concerned."

The Chief Justice further remarked that the intelligence agencies should act within the limits of law as they were not "above the law".

He referred to the intelligence agencies as the "biggest violators" of the law, saying they had become "insensitive" to issues.

Four of the 11 men detained by the intelligence agencies have died in mysterious circumstances over the past six months, while the others were in very poor health when they were produced in the apex court on February 11. The seven men were unable to walk or stand without help and some of them carried urine bags.

The Supreme Court took up the matter after Ruhaifa, the mother of three of the detained men, filed a petition.

One of Ruhaifa's sons died last year and she herself died a day after the seven detainees were produced in court.

The two intelligence agencies had contended in their replies that they could not close their eyes to "rebellious acts" by internal and external elements involved in terrorism.

But the bench said the replies did not state the law under which the civilians were picked up and kept in detention for over a year.

The Chief Justice remarked: "We have to see why four prisoners lost their lives."

Raja Irshad referred to sacrifices made by the intelligence agencies but the Chief Justice responded by saying that only the Constitution can be followed.

Irshad defended the intelligence agencies and said Parliament should pass more effective anti-terrorism laws to ensure that suspects are not acquitted on the basis on insufficient evidence.

At this point, the Chief Justice said evidence must be produced before any detainee can be found guilty.

"They may have attacked General Headquarters or (an ISI facility), but bring the evidence," he said.

The Chief Justice also questioned Irshad about alleged human rights abuses in Balochistan, where security agencies have been accused of killing and detaining hundreds of members of nationalist groups to put down an insurgency.

"Dead bodies are being found and Balochistan is on fire," he said.

Irshad said the intelligence services accepted the Constitutional authority of the judiciary and that the seven detainees were being provided medical care at a hospital on the court's orders.

However, the Chief Justice continued his criticism of the intelligence agencies.

"You are so insensitive to the human loss that the families of the missing persons have suffered because of you. This is a big allegation against you (ISI and Military Intelligence) - there is a hue and cry throughout the country that you abduct people and after some days, their abandoned bodies surface," he said.

The bench subsequently adjourned the case till March 16.


First Published: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 20:58

comments powered by Disqus