Islamabad: Ordering the government to produce 35 "missing persons" before it in seven days, Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as illegal the secret detention of any individual by the Army.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry announced the final verdict in the case of the "missing persons" or those detained without charge by intelligence and security agencies.
The bench said in its detailed judgement that statements by relatives of the "missing persons" and a jail superintendent proved that army personnel were involved in the "illegal transfer" of detainees from a jail in Malakand in the northwest to an undisclosed location.
Ordering an inquiry against those involved in the illegal detentions, the court directed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and the provincial Governor to trace the missing persons within seven days and present them in court.
Expressing anger at the government`s response to the issue, the apex court said the Defence Ministry initially denied that the military was involved in the matter but admitted to it later.
The court directed the premier to ensure that no security agency is responsible for enforced disappearances in future. It also directed the government to enact laws to stop such detentions.
The apex court, under the outgoing Chief Justice, mounted considerable pressure on the army and intelligence agencies over the issue of "missing persons". But its efforts have led to the production in court of only a handful of detainees and rights activists says scores of people continue to be in custody.