Army officers’ detention case: SC moved against plea dismissal
ISLAMABAD: Families of the six army officers detained by state authorities over the last 19 months for reasons yet undisclosed have challenged in the Supreme Court the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench’s dismissal of their habeas corpus petitions for want of jurisdiction.
Colonel Khalid Mahmood Abbasi (GHQ), Lt Col Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Headquarters army aviation command), Major Adil Quddus (GHQ), Major Muhammad Rohail Fraz (2nd Corp), Major Attaullah Khan Mahmood (2nd Corp) and Captain Dr Usman Zafar (Mujahid Battalion) — were taken into state custody on different dates over the last 19 months. The Judge Advocate General (Armyy’s legal attorney) had told the high court that the officials had been arrested under the Army Act of 1952 and as such the case couldn’t be taken up by a civilian court. Consequently, the division bench of the high court dismissed the petitions. This dismissal has now been challenged in the Supreme Court through lawyer Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry.
The petitions filed under Article 185(3) of the Constitution maintain that the state authorities violated the Army Act and also the Constitution of Pakistan by not presenting the detention order and the charge sheet against the detainees in the high court. The petitions also state that the high court misinterpreted Article 199(3) of the Constitution while adjudicating the case and extended unconstitutional protection to the detaining authorities against the spirit of the Army Act and the Constitution of Pakistan. The petitioners stated that there should be no bar under the Army Act 1952 that could restrain a civilian court from taking up detention cases of army personnel. The petitioners have made the Federation of Pakistan through the Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the director general of the Inter services Intelligence (ISI) respondents in the petitions.
Yasmeen Khalid, wife of Col Khalid, Abida Perveen wife of Lt Col Abdul Ghaffar, Mumtaz Attaullah wife of Major Attaullah, Farina Rohail wife of Major Rohail Fraz, Khadija Adil wife of Major Adil Quddus and Farzana Tasneem mother of Captain Dr Usman Zafar have filed separate petitions seeking the army officers’ release. The petitioners have also sought a court order to allow them to meet the detainees as prescribed by the law and constitution. mohammad kamran