The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered law enforcement agencies to ensure the return of missing Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Additional Joint Director Sajid Gondal by September 17.
The directives were issued by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah while hearing a case related to the missing SECP official.
During the hearing, the IHC CJ slammed the government for its failure to recover Gondal.
“Is this a normal case?” the judge rhetorically asked the officials present in court.
The judge observed that the federal capital was 1,400 square miles and this “small area” had its own inspector general of police and chief commissioner. He noted that the highest court of the country was also located within the federal capital.
The judge asked the officials present whether they had any idea as to how many such cases were being heard by his court. He also wondered how the officials would react if a federal minister’s son went missing.
Justice Minallah observed that the prime minister had played a crucial role in the lawyers’ movement for the supremacy of law. He asked the officials whether they had informed the prime minister what was happening in the federal capital.
“Someone will have to accept responsibility in this case,” Justice Minallah stated at one point. He also asked the officials to tell the court about one case in which a missing person had been recovered by them.
“All efforts are being made for the recovery of Sajid Gondal,” the interior secretary offered in response to the judge.
The interior secretary told the court that a meeting was held today and all matters related to the disappearance were reviewed. He also assured the court that the case was being investigated at the highest level.
“Every citizen is insecure, [and] this situation is worrying,” the judge said in response.
He added that he had been informed that the missing persons commission had taken notice of Sajid Gondal’s disappearance.
“Is this a case of enforced disappearance?” questioned Justice Minallah. But the interior secretary told the court that they could not say anything on the matter yet.
“If there is no rule of law in the federal capital then what does this mean?” asked Justice Minallah. “I am confident that you would have not informed the PM about the case.”
He added that as soon as the PM gets to know about the case, the state’s response will be very different.
The secretary told the court that a first information report has been filed in the case and that an investigation was underway.
“You should accept your failure,” insisted Justice Minallah. “This did not happen overnight; mis-governance led to this.”
He reminded the secretary that he was standing in front of the court as a representative of the state.
“This is real corruption,” observed the judge. He also asked the bureaucrat if he had obtained the list of people that had gone missing from the federal capital.
“Your efforts are not being seen. What is the age of the petitioner? Did anyone visit their house?” the judge asked, referring to the fact that the victim’s aged mother had to petition the court for his recovery.
To this, the police officials present told the court that the Superintendent Investigations had visited the home of the petitioner.
In the last hearing, the IHC had ordered law enforcement agencies to recover SECP Additional Joint Director Sajid Gondal by today.
The IHC had issued the directives while hearing the petition filed by Gondal’s mother over her son’s disappearance.
The SECP official had gone missing on Thursday evening, prompting top government officials, including the human rights minister, Shireen Mazari, and the premier’s aide on accountability, Shahzad Akbar, to issue directives for his “early recovery” on Friday.
During the hearing, the court had remarked that if Gondal was not recovered by 2pm on Monday, the secretary of the interior ministry will have to appear in person before the court.
“If Sajid Gondal is not recovered [by Monday] then the chief commissioner and IG police will also present themselves before the court,” the IHC had said.