May 20th, 2021 

By Staff Report 


In an unprecedented move, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued “non-bailable” arrest warrants for the federal secretary of Interior Yousaf Naeem for constantly ignoring and disregarding orders of the court in a case about the recovery of a missing citizen of Karachi Shamshad Ali.

The order was issued by a two-member bench of the court comprising of Justice K.K Agha and Justice Abdul Mobeen Lakho.

Resorting to an extreme measure

The SHC had been ordering the Secretary of the Interior to present a list of all internment centers where missing persons are being held in KP along with the list of names of ID card numbers of all people held in those internment centers, so that the court could ascertain whether the missing citizen Shamshad (along with several other missing citizens of Karachi whose cases are pending in the SHC) was present in any of those internment centers or not.

In his defense, the federal secretary for the Interior had told the courts that the missing persons were not being held by departments answerable to the ministry such as the FIA or the Rangers. Instead, the missing persons were being held in internment centers which were both, being ‘established and administered’ by the KP home department.

The court expressed great “shock and surprise” at the reply submitted by the interior secretary stating that if the ministry was powerful enough to get involved in trying to resolve the extremist protests carried out by the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) in Punjab then it was powerful enough to attain the list from the relevant ministry in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The court also ordered the interior secretary to be present in court himself to explain his position if he fails to submit the lists demanded by the court. But the secretary of interior chooses to ignore all these orders.

The current judgment

The current judgment delivered by the court should be looked at in the context of the entire hearing of this case whereby the secretary of interior showcased complete disregard for the authority of the courts.

Finally, in a judgment given yesterday on May 19, 2021, the court expressed its severe discontent with the interior secretary and issued non-bail-able warrants against him.

“Today, the federal secretary of the ministry of interior has sent Mr. Nadeem Bhatti, deputy secretary to assist the courts, however, he has no report to submit before the court. It was ordered on March 6 that unless reports are filed the secretary should appear in person. Not only has he not bothered to appear in person he has not sent the joint or the additional secretary and instead has sent a deputy secretary. This proves that the secretary of the interior has no intention of tracking down the missing person or complying with the orders of this court which he has consistently violated. Under these circumstances, we have no option but to issue non-bailable warrants against Yousaf Nasim Khokhar, the federal secretary for the interior.”

The court has ordered that the Inspector General of Police Islamabad must execute this non-bailable arrest warrant and produce the secretary in court on May 27 at 8:30 am, exactly.

Legal experts

“The judgment seems unprecedented because the warrants have been issued against the interior secretary but if you look at it from a purely legal point of view then it is evident that the courts have not done anything extraordinary. This is the due process which the court is rightly following,” explains Qamar Ramay, a senior lawyer at the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid cell. “The court has the right to issue warrants against any citizen if he or she fails to comply with its orders and/or summons, repeatedly and they have exercised that right,” continues Ramay.

In addition to issuing warrants, the court can also write a letter to the secretary of the establishment division and order him to cease paying out a salary to the secretary of the interior for violating court orders. But Ramay does not expect a fuss to be created over the matter.

According to him the Federal secretary will appear in the court on the next hearing to avoid the embarrassment of getting arrested by his colleague. He also asserts that similar action can be initiated against the IGP if he fails to execute these warrants. made several calls to the ministry of interior, including to the Interior Secretary, his press officer, and the media officer of the ministry of the interior but they refused to comment on the matter.