SC allows counsel to give arguments on its jurisdiction in FATA

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the petitioner Tariq Asad advocate to advance arguments on the court’s jurisdiction in FATA on next hearing of the missing prisoners of Adiala Jail Rawalpindi’s case.

Appearing on notice, Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the court that missing prisoners of Adiala Jail Rawalpindi, being detained by the intelligence agencies, could not be released until the regulations pertaining to assistance of civil authority were in effect in FATA.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed, was also informed that under the law, trial of these prisoners was not necessary until operation against the terrorists was in progress in the tribal areas.

Irfan Qadir presented before the court a notification issued by President Asif Ali Zardari calling army for assistance of civil authority in tribal areas, adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Irfan Qadir stated that the notification was issued by the president under Article 245 of the Constitution. He said since it was the matter of individual’s freedom and fundamental rights, thus the court would also had to see that who was authorized to issue such a notification. He said it was the matter of individual’s freedom, which could not be usurped for indefinite period.

He said despite the lapse of over two years, no evidence could be brought against the prisoners, adding that evidence was must for detaining any one.

Irfan Qadir stated that the court would also have to see whether it had the jurisdiction in the tribal areas, as the suspects were arrested from the semiautonomous northwestern tribal belt, where army had been fighting militants for around a decade.

He said none of the suspects’ detainees could be freed until the end of operation in the tribal belt. The court rejected a report submitted by the Federally Administered Tribal Areas FATA Secretary Nasir Jamal over the prisoners. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till February 28.