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SHC summons home secretary in missing persons’ cases

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has expressed resentment over the provincial taskforce (PTF) for issuing just routine directions in every case of missing persons and directed the home secretary to turn up with an explanation.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto observed that the court disapproved casual directions, since the liberty of the persons was involved in such matters.

It also ordered the head of a joint investigation team for missing persons and the deputy inspector general of police (investigation) to ensure their presence at next hearing as well.

When the bench took up a set of petitions seeking recovery of missing persons for hearing, the police in one of the petitions, filed in 2015, submitted that 23 and 16 sessions of a joint investigation team and the taskforce for missing persons had been held respectively.

The police also submitted that in the last session directions were issued to the investigating officer of the case for collecting reports from the agencies which were still awaited.

The IO was also asked to get the photographs of a missing person published in the print media, it added.

The bench noted that apparently, the case of the missing person in question had been categorised as an enforced disappearance.

It also observed that in the 16th sessions of the taskforce held on Feb 20, the IO had been directed to collect fresh reports from remaining agencies.

“It appears that routine directions have been issued by the PTF. Home secretary, government of Sindh, is directed to appear before this court and explain as to how routine directions are being issued in every missing person [case]. Since, liberty of the person is involved, thus routine directions are disapproved,” it added.

The deputy attorney general submitted a response of interior ministry which asserted that the missing person in question was not held by any agency working under its control.

While adjourning the hearing till March 23, the bench asked its office to send a copy of this order to the home secretary for compliance.

In another identical petition, the bench also directed the head of the JIT to turn up on March 23 to explain his position since a JIT report was placed before the court without signatures of its members.

Moreover, the bench ordered the DIG (investigation) to appear in person and observed that the police were not serious in a case of a five-year-old girl, who had gone missing in 2011, and the police were still clueless about her whereabouts.

It also asked the DIG to hold further investigations in the case of the underage girl.