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Defence secretary told to file comments on plea for Uzair Baloch production

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the defence secretary to file comments by January 22 on a petition filed by the mother of chief of outlawed Peoples Amn Committee Uzair Jan Baloch seeking his production before trial courts.

A two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro expressed displeasure over a federal law officer for not filing comments despite the directives issued on the previous hearing.

Uzair Baloch, now in the custody of military authorities, has been facing over 50 cases, including the murder of his arch-rival Arshad Pappu, before antiterrorism and sessions courts.

A deputy attorney general informed the bench that a letter was sent to the ministry of defence seeking comments, but its response was still awaited.

The lawyer for the petitioner argued that the petition had been pending since September 2018, but the authorities concerned had yet to come up with their response.

The counsel also submitted that the authorities also did not arrange a meeting of the held suspect with his family despite issuance of a court order.

The bench directed the defence secretary to file comments by the next hearing. It also asked the authorities to arrange a meeting of the detained suspect with the petitioner and other family members.

A Rangers’ law officer submitted that the Lyari gangster was not in the custody of the paramilitary force.

On a previous hearing, the jail authorities through a report informed the bench that Uzair Baloch was shifted from the Karachi central prison to the Army’s V Corps in Karachi on April 11, 2017 in the presence of the civil judge and judicial magistrate-XI (south) to face trial before a military court.

Earlier, the judicial magistrate had also deposed before the ATC concerned that the army had moved an application for the custody of the suspect for a trial before a military court, adding that while allowing the application, he had directed the jail authorities to hand over his custody to military officials.

Uzair Baloch was detained under 90-day preventive detention by the Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, and then handed over to police following his mysterious arrest in January 2016. In April 2017, the army announced that it had taken his custody in connection with charges of “espionage”.

His mother, Razia Begum, through her lawyer Shaukat Hayat submitted that her son was picked up by personnel of law enforcement agencies in January 2016 and he had remained in their custody since then.

The lawyer argued that Uzair was booked and chargesheeted in dozens of cases pending before ATCs, adding that he was shifted from the central prison and since then he had not been brought before any court while the family of the detainee was also not being allowed to meet him.

The petitioner’s counsel maintained that the detainee had the right to a fair trial and requested the SHC to issue a directive for his production before the trial courts.

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