Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court has issued notices to the Defence Ministry, the ISI and Military Intelligence in response to a petition challenging a law that allows people accused of terrorism to be detained in internment centres.

A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the notices yesterday after taking up an application regarding the health of seven men who were recovered from the custody of intelligence agencies on orders of the Apex Court.

The bench issued the notices after it was informed by an official of the internment centre at Parachinar in Kurram tribal region that prisoners Abdul Basit and Abdul Majid could not be released because they were allegedly involved in "anti-state activities" and attacks on the army.

Basit and Majid were among 11 prisoners who went missing after being freed from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on May 29, 2010. They were released after being acquitted of terrorism charges. The men were arrested for different acts of terrorism, including the 2009 attacks on the army's General Headquarters and ISI's Hamza Camp in Rawalpindi. Four of the men later died in mysterious circumstances.

The other seven were produced for the first time in the Supreme Court on February 13. At the time, they were all in poor health and several of them could not walk without aid. The men were sent to a hospital in Peshawar for treatment on the Apex Court's orders. When five of the seven men recovered, they were shifted to the internment centre in Parachinar.

On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad Alizai informed the Apex Court that Mufti Abdul Baees, the brother of Basit and Majid, had submitted an application for their release but the interment centre's authorities insisted that they were allegedly involved in anti-state activities and attacks on the army and could not be released.

Tariq Asad, the lawyer who has taken up the case of the prisoners, said he had challenged the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations 2011 and requested the court to urgently take up the matter because the case of the two prisoners depended on it.

The counsel for ISI and Military Intelligence had already told the court that the prisoners would be tried under the Army Act of 1952, Asad said. After keeping the men in custody for some time, authorities were saying that they could not be tried under this law, he added.


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