LHC Tells Army To Provide Written Explanation For Detention Of High-Ranking Official

Military had verbally informed the court that the official had been detained under Section 73 of the Army Act

LHC Tells Army To Provide Written Explanation For Detention Of High-Ranking Official

The military was on Thursday given two days to submit in writing all the reasons why a senior officer of the defence force had been detained for nearly three months.

This was directed on Thursday by a single-member bench of the Lahore High Court's Rawalpindi Bench headed by Justice Jawad Hassan as he took up a petition filed by Ummaira Saleem, the wife of the missing officer, Brigadier Akhtar Subhan.

During Thursday's hearing, Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) DTE Law Lt. Col Haider Sultan appeared before the court.

According to a one-page order issued after Thursday's hearing, Lt. Col Haider Sultan told the court that Brigadier Subhan has been taken into custody by the authority under Section 73 of the Army Act 1952, whereby any officer charged with an offence can be taken into military custody by a superior or junior officer. 

Lt Col Sultan informed the court that Brigadier Subhan is currently detained in Quetta. 

"He (Lt. Col Sultan) is directed to place on file all his submissions in writing within two days," the short order stated. 

Saleem had filed a petition over the detention of her husband under Article 199 of the Constitution and had requested the high court to issue directions to the military to produce her husband before the court.  

The petitioner further requested the court to declare the arrest and subsequent detention of Brigadier Subhan as illegal and in violation of the service Rules.

Brigadier Subhan had served in the army at various positions and appointments and rose through the ranks to become a Brigadier. His last assignment was as administrator of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Quetta.

According to the contents of the petition, Brigadier Subhan was allegedly abducted by officials of the Special Investigation Branch of the military from his office on June 22, 2023, and brought to Rawalpindi for further investigations. 

Saleem argued that her husband has been illegally detained while no meaningful communication has been allowed with the family or the outside world. 

She claimed repeated efforts were made to obtain some information about her husband's health and well-being, but she was not informed under what law he had been detained without access to any legal assistance.  

She contends that recently, she learnt that her husband had been shifted to the 28 Military Police Unit in Rawalpindi. 

The wife of the army officer contended that she wrote to the Adjutant General at the GHQ to release her husband and that if there are any disciplinary proceedings pending against him, he should be treated in accordance with the law. 

The petition further contended that a person subject to the Pakistan Army Act 1952 cannot be held in detention for more than 48 hours without trial in light of sections 74 and 75 of the Pakistan Army Act 1952. 

If the detenue is to be proceeded against, then he is entitled to a copy of his charge sheet and summary of evidence to prepare his defence under the relevant law. 

The petition stated that the detenue has not been given meaningful access to his family members or the legal counsel of his choice for the last three months. 

The court directed the military to submit its reasons for detaining Brigadier Subhan and the charges against him in writing within two days and that the court shall take up the petition for further hearing on September 26.

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