Mahera Sajid v. Station House Officer et al.


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Duty to Investigate | Reparations | Burden of Proof | Obligation to Prevent | Deprivation of Liberty | Relatives as Victims

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Prevention | Justice and Truth

The Court recalled that the State is responsible for protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and that the practice of enforced disappearance leads to the erosion of the State's legal authority. It added that, although enforced disappearance is not defined in the domestic legislation of the country, it results in multiple violations of fundamental rights and amounts to one of the most heinous crimes, which cannot be justified on any grounds and ought to be given the highest priority. The Court recalled how in cases of enforced disappearance the State is responsible for demonstrating its good faith in taking prompt and effective steps. It found that in the present case the failure of the criminal justice system to promptly and effectively respond to the complaint resulted in the loss of crucial time for carrying out investigations, and in the violation of the rights to life and liberty, dignity and equality before the law of the victim's family, who went through anguish, pain and extreme stress. The Court found the highest ranks of the police responsible for the failure of their subordinates.

The Court ordered those responsible to compensate the victim's husband through a monthly payment to be provided until the whereabouts of the victim are discovered. The Court also found all of the law enforcement officers involved in the case liable to pay compensation to the victim's family for the violation of their dignity. The Court further ordered the Government to conduct an inquiry into the failure of the criminal justice system in the present case, and directed the joint investigation team to conduct an investigation into the whereabouts of the victim. Finally, it ordered the intelligence services to report to the relevant institutions any incident of abduction of a citizen having the characteristics of an enforced disappearance, and to take effective measures to trace the whereabouts of the victims.

Judgment Date

May 11, 2018

Country

Pakistan

Judicial Body

Pakistan - High Court of Islamabad

Articles violated

Article 9 [PC], Article 14 [PC], Article 25 [PC]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Sajid Mehmood was abducted from his house in March 2016 by a group of men wearing uniforms resembling those of special police forces. The group forcefully entered his house and confiscated computers, cell phones and some documents. Mr. Mehmood's wife did not obtain any information on his whereabouts at the police station, where officers refused to open investigations. In June 2016, Mr. Mehmood's father filed a complaint with the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance. A criminal case and a joint investigation team were established in July 2016. Although the joint investigation team confirmed that Mr. Mehmood had been victim of an enforced disappearance, no further action was taken and Mr. Mehmood's whereabouts remained unknown.

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