SC To Hear Plea Over Registrar's Objections To Petition Against Forced Repatriation Of Afghan Refugees

Top court has fixed the hearing for early next week, with the hearing to be held in-chamber 

SC To Hear Plea Over Registrar's Objections To Petition Against Forced Repatriation Of Afghan Refugees

The Supreme Court has fixed for hearing an appeal filed against objections raised by its registrar's office on a petition seeking a restraining order against the government for forced repatriation of Afghan citizens. 

Justice Yahya Afridi was assigned to hear the appeals against the registrar's objections in his chamber on November 20.

Earlier this month, on November 8, the Supreme Court registrar's office returned the petition with certain objections. 

One of the registrar's office's objections was that the petitioners had not pointed out the specific questions of public importance concerning enforcing any fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to justify invoking Article 184(3).

In their appeal against the registrar's objections, the petitioners contended that their petition raises issues critical to the fundamental rights of all Pakistanis.

"The issues raised in the petition are critical for securing the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution," contended the appeal filed by Umer Ijaz Gillani on behalf of 13 human rights activists and politicians. 

It added, "The promises contained in the Constitution must never be allowed to become mere verbiage, the harbingers of false hope."

The petition further stated that every constitutional promise must be encashed – here and now. In this regard, as per Article 184(3) and relevant case law, the Supreme Court bears a heavy responsibility towards the marginalised and voiceless segments of society who ordinarily cannot access the courts of law to enforce their rights."

The petitioners include Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, rights activist Amina Masood Janjua, National Democratic Movement Chairman Mohsin Dawar, human rights lawyer Jibran Nasir, Rohail Kasi, Syed Muaz Shah, Pastor Ghazala Parveen, lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari, Ahmad Shabbar, Advocate Imran Shafiq, Luke Victor and Sijal Shafiq.

Through their appeal, the top court has been requested to set aside the objections raised by the registrar's office and direct to fix the case for hearing.

Earlier in the month, these petitioners filed a petition in the Supreme Court invoking the court's jurisdiction under Article 184(3), whereby they urged the court to restrain the federal government from forcibly repatriating Afghan refugees.

It is pertinent to mention that the federal government had in October given a month to all illegal migrants in the country to leave without facing any legal consequences. After the expiration of this deadline, the government said that it would deport all illegal foreign nationals, including Afghan refugees who were not documented. However, the period saw a crackdown on even legal and documented refugees, and some 200,000 Afghan refugees were forced to return by the time the petition was filed.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain