Col Inam-ur-Rahim Forcibly Disappeared for Violating Official Secrets Act 1923

Col Inam-ur-Rahim Forcibly Disappeared for Violating Official Secrets Act 1923
Col Inam-ur-Rahim Forcibly Disappeared for Violating Official Secrets Act 1923

Colonel Inam-ur-Rahim, a lawyer who had fought cases for families of missing persons and coordinator for the Rawalpindi Bar Association’s Human Rights Committee, had been forcibly disappeared by security forces for violating the Official Secrets Act (1923).

The revelation came 3 weeks after he had been picked up from his home in Askari 14, Garrison City Rawalpindi, in the late hours of December 16th 2019. According to his son, Husnain Inam, several armed men in plainclothes forcibly entered the premises and picked up the colonel who asleep in his bedroom.

The family remained in the dark as to his whereabouts and health for the next 3 weeks, during which Husnain Inam had filed a petition against his arrest, but the case remained in a quagmire.

During the hearing on Inam-ur-Rahim’s abduction in front of the Rawalpindi Registry of the Lahore High Court on January 2nd 2020, Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti confirmed to the judges that he was in the custody of law enforcement agencies, and was being interrogated for alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act 1923.

Bhatti, representing the government in the hearing, did not divulge the exact nature of the offense but provided that the court will be informed about the inquiry once it has been completed. However, he rejected the petitioners’ claims that Col Inam-ur-Rahim was abducted, stating that they had been “accorded their rights”.

The LHC accepted the petition and ordered the Ministry of Defense and the federal government to submit their replies on January 9th, however in the detailed judgment, the court found that the complainants failed to “prove wrongdoing on part of the military authorities” and denied the family’s request to meet Col Inam-ur-Rahim.

Under the Official Secrets Act (1923), any act that is prejudicial to the interests and the safety of the state, or that is in relation to the military, naval and air force affairs of Pakistan or to any official secret code, is punishable by death or with imprisonment for a term of up to 14 years. Furthermore, it is not necessary for the prosecution to show that the accused was guilty of any particular act tending to the state.

Inam-ur-Rahim was a prominent missing persons lawyer, however he was also known for legally combating the military in a variety of prominent and controversial cases, including challenging the appointment of General Asim Saleem Bajwa as chairman of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, a 3-year tenure extension of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in 2010, registering a land allotment corruption case against General Pervez Musharraf, and pursuing a case regarding the forced disappearance of alleged CIA spy Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider.

Update: On 9th January, Justice Mirza Waqas Rauf from the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench declared Col. Inamur Rahim’s detention “illegal” based on lack of documentary evidence regarding the complaint against the lawyer.

“The detention of retired colonel Inamur Rahim has no legal grounds whatsoever,” Justice Mirza Waqas Rauf remarked during the hearing of the case today.