IHC scolds interior secretary over failure to recover Gondal

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered law enforcement agencies to ensure the return of missing Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Additional Joint Director Sajid Gondal by September 17.

The directives were issued by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah while hearing a case related to the missing SECP official. During the hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah berated the interior secretary, police and capital authorities after they failed to produce Gondal, who has been missing since last week. “Give court one example of [a case] in which missing citizen was recovered,” he asked. “Someone should accept responsibility for this,” he remarked, and asked Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar if the prime minister had been told ‘what is happening in the federal capital’. “I am sure you have not told the prime minister about this [case]. As soon as the prime minister gets to know about this, the state’s response would be different,” Justice Minallah said, adding that the court has ‘complete confidence’ in the prime minister.

The judge observed that the federal capital was only 1,400 square miles and this small area had its own inspector general of police and chief commissioner. He noted that the highest court of the country was also located within the federal capital. He asked the officials present whether they had any idea as to how many such cases were being heard by his court. He also wondered how the officials would react if a federal minister’s son had gone missing.

Khokhar tried to assure the court that a ‘high-level’ investigation was underway. “A first information report has been lodged and investigation has started,” he said. “You [should] accept your failure,” the judge remarked, adding that “everyone in the federal capital was feeling insecure”. He observed that the current situation was a product of ‘misgovernance’. “We are doing everything we can,” Khokar said. “Your efforts are not visible,” the judge said. “For the [past] three days, only meetings are being held, the SECP official could not be found,” he added.

Justice Minallah directed Khokhar to notify the federal cabinet about the matter. The interior secretary told the court that the prime minister will be informed and the matter will be placed before the federal cabinet in the next meeting. Justice Minallah said that there were reports that the commission for missing persons had taken notice of Gondal’s ‘abduction’. “Has it been established that this is a case of enforced disappearance that the commission took notice?” he asked. He inquired if the commission’s chairperson had found some information that indicated that this was a case of enforced disappearance, adding if the investigators have contacted the missing persons’ commission. “Is this a case of enforced disappearance?” the judge asked. “Nothing can be said about this right now,” Khokhar responded.

Justice Minallah said that the police’s investigation team should have contacted the chairperson of the commission to ask if the latter has some ‘personal information’. Khokhar urged the court to ‘let state departments do their job’.

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IHC chief justice berates interior secy on failure to recover SECP official Sajid Gondal – Pakistan

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday berated the interior secretary, police and capital authorities after they failed to produce Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Joint Director Sajid Gondal, who has been missing since last week.

IHC had directed authorities to recover Gondal, who had gone missing on Thursday night, by today. The court was hearing a petition filed by Gondal’s mother, seeking recovery of her son from “unknown” abductors.

During today’s proceedings, Justice Minallah noted that authorities had been unsuccessful in producing the SECP official before the court and said: “Give court one example of [a case] in which missing citizen was recovered.”

“Someone should accept responsibility for this,” the high court top judge remarked.

He asked interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar if the prime minister had been “told what is happening in the federal capital”.

“I am sure you have not told the prime minister about this [case]. As soon as the prime minister gets to know about this, the state’s response would be different,” Justice Minallah said, adding that the court had “complete confidence” in the prime minister.

Khokhar tried to assure the court that a “high-level” investigation was underway.

“A first information report has been lodged and investigation has started,” he said.

“You [should] accept your failure,” the judge remarked, adding that “everyone in the federal capital was feeling insecure”. He observed that the current situation was a product of “misgovernance”.

“We are doing everything we can,” Khokar said.

“Your efforts are not visible,” the judge said. “For the [past] three days, only meetings are being held, the SECP official could not be found.”

“How would you have acted if such a thing happened with a federal minister’s son?” Justice Minallah asked. He directed Khokhar to notify the federal cabinet about the matter. The interior secretary told the court that the prime minister will be informed and the matter will be placed before the federal cabinet in the next meeting.

Justice Minallah said that there were reports that the commission for missing persons had taken notice of Gondal’s “abduction”.

“Has it been established that this is a case of enforced disappearance that the commission took notice?” he asked. He inquired if the commission’s chairperson had found some information that indicated that this was a case of enforced disappearance, adding if the investigators have contacted the missing persons’ commission.

“Is this a case of enforced disappearance?” the judge asked.

“Nothing can be said about this right now,” Khokhar responded. Justice Minallah said that the police’s investigation team should have contacted the chairperson of the commission to ask if the latter has some “personal information”.

The judge also lamented that investigation officers were not properly trained and that there was not even a prosecution branch in Islamabad. What should a constitutional court do in such cases, he asked.

Khokhar urged the court to “let state departments do their job”.

Justice Minallah noted that the court was the “protector of people’s constitutional right” while adding

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IHC issues stay order on Interior Ministry’s decision

Cynthia Ritchie had challenged interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days in the IHC on Saturday. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued a stay order on US national Cynthia D Ritchie’s plea against the Interior Ministry’s decision to turn down a visa extension for the blogger.

Ritchie had petitioned the IHC on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days.

In the petition, the US national has nominated the interior secretary, deputy secretary and the director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as respondents to the case.

She has argued that she fulfilled all legal obligations required of her in her visa application to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan, yet was turned down without explanation.

After hearing her arguments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie and issued notices to the home ministry, the DG FIA and others.

The court also ordered the blogger to submit an affidavit detailing her allegations in the document.

“Visas of Pakistanis are denied every day and no reason is provided,” Justice Minallah remarked. He assured that the petitioner gets complete justice in the case.

The ministry, in an earlier response to the IHC, had stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 against the law.

It had mentioned that the blogger had applied for an extension in her work visa twice, but was instead given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy even though her company was not registered in Pakistan.

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IHC stays interior ministry order asking US blogger to leave Pakistan – Pakistan

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday stayed an interior ministry decision to deport US blogger Cynthia Ritchie and issued notices to the interior secretary and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general.

The court also directed that Ritchie submit an affidavit detailing all her grievances before the next hearing before adjourning the case indefinitely.

On Saturday, Ritchie had filed a writ petition in the high court against the ministry’s decision to reject an extension in her visa, naming the FIA director general and the interior secretary as respondents.

In her plea, Ritchie said her request for a visa extension had been rejected despite providing all the relevant documents, adding that the interior ministry did not state the reasons for doing so either.

During today’s hearing, presided over by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the US blogger’s lawyer reiterated that the authorities concerned did not provide a reason for denying Ritchie a visa extension.

At this, Justice Minallah observed that numerous visas are rejected on a daily basis without an explanation.

When her lawyer questioned the law under which her request was denied, the judge replied that no law is required to reject a visa.

“A visa is not a basic right, it is a privilege,” the judge remarked. The court also asked whether Ritchie had any other complaints, to which she replied that two petitions were pending in the FIA.

In her petition with the IHC, Ritchie said her visa had expired and she had applied for a work visa with all the necessary documents.

“[But] due to the pandemic situation, the same could not be processed and the visas of all foreigners were extended by a general order, and the same premium was also afforded to the petitioner,” it said.

Ritchie said she had moved another application for a work visa due to a change of sponsor which was also not decided due to Covid-19, and was later “shocked” to receive a letter from the interior ministry stating that her visa application had been rejected.

She added that the interior ministry had earlier submitted its comments, during the hearing of a petition filed by an activist of the PPP, that Ritchie was not involved in “anti-state and illegal activity” in Pakistan.

“Further, while filing the visa application all the requirements of a work visa were complied with. Despite that, the visa application was rejected without affording any reasoning,” she said in her petition.

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IHC stays interior ministry’s deportation orders for Cynthia Ritchie

IHC CJ Justice Athar Minallah has also sought replies from Home Ministry, DG Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and other parties on Cynthia’s case 

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday stayed an Interior Ministry decision to turn down a visa extension application filed by US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie.

Ritchie had petitioned the IHC on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days.

In the petition, the US national has nominated the interior secretary, deputy secretary and the director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as respondents to the case. 

She has argued that she fulfilled all legal obligations required of her in her visa application to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan, yet was turned down without explanation.

After hearing her arguments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie and issued notices to the home ministry, the DG FIA and others.

The court also ordered the blogger to submit an affidavit detailing her allegations in the document.

“Visas of Pakistanis are denied every day and no reason is provided,” Justice Minallah remarked. He assured that the petitioner gets complete justice in the case.

Read more: Cynthia moves IHC against interior ministry’s decision to reject visa extension

The ministry, in an earlier response to the IHC, had stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 against the law.

It had mentioned that the blogger had applied for an extension in her work visa twice, but was instead given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy even though her company was not registered in Pakistan.

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Cynthia moves IHC against interior ministry’s decision to reject visa extension

In its response to the IHC a day ago, the ministry stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 which was against the law — File photo

US Blogger Cynthia D Ritchie has submitted a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her a visa extension.

In the petition, Ritchie made the interior secretary, deputy secretary, and director-general Federal Investigation Agency parties to the case, stating that she had fulfilled all the legal obligations required of her — in her visa application — to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan.

Ritchie accused the interior ministry of denying her visa without any solid reason, her petition mentioning that rejecting her visa extension was a violation of the General Clauses Act and the country’s visa policy.

Interior ministry asks Cynthia Ritchie to leave Pakistan within 15 days

Earlier this week, the ministry had rejected Ritchie’s visa extension application and asked her to exit the country within 15 days.

In its response to the IHC a day ago, the ministry stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 which was against the law.

It mentioned that the blogger had applied for her work visa extension two times, but she was given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy, adding that her company was not registered in Pakistan either.

The interior ministry on Friday had also submitted its comments to the High court in Cynthia D Ritchie’s case, stating that the American blogger should be stopped from making controversial statements that go against the basic rights of citizens.

The response came after the IHC expressed displeasure over the ministry’s comments at the previous hearing, instructing it to provide relevant records of its business visa policy. 

Ritchie accuses PPP leadership of ‘harassment’ and ‘manhandling’

In a video broadcast live on Facebook in May, Ritchie had alleged that a senior PPP leader had raped her while two others had ‘manhandled’ her at a separate occasion.

She had stated that the incidents occurred in 2011 during the PPP tenure, when the individual she accused of rape had been a senior minister.

Ritchie had further alleged that two other senior party leaders — a federal minister and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani (who publicly responded to the allegation) — had “physically manhandled” her when the latter “was staying the President House”.

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In response to IHC, interior ministry says Cynthia Ritchie must be stopped from making controversial statements

The response comes after the IHC expressed displeasure over the ministry’s comments at the previous hearing. — Geo.tv/Files 

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry on Friday submitted its comments to the Islamabad High Court in Cynthia D Ritchie’s case, stating that the American blogger should be stopped from making controversial statements that go against the basic rights of citizens.

The response comes after the IHC expressed displeasure over the ministry’s comments at the previous hearing, instructing it to provide relevant records of its business visa policy.

In its response to the IHC today, the ministry stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 which was against the law.

It mentioned that the blogger had applied for her work visa extension two times, but she was given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy, adding that her company was not registered in Pakistan either.

The ministry, on Wednesday, had rejected Ritchie’s visa extension application and asked her to exit the country within 15 days.

IHC expresses displeasure

In Tuesday’s hearing, the additional attorney general informed the court that the American blogger had told the ministry she was not associated with any government institution.

Responding to the AAG’s comments, Chief Justice Athar Minallah noted that previously the ministry had adopted the stance that the blogger had been serving government institutions.

Justice Minallah said that the ministry had not adopted a clear stance so far in the matter.

Expressing displeasure with the representative of the interior ministry, the judge asked: “Is there any law or policy?”, questioning whether the ministry had any documents which explain the visa policy for foreigners.

The court asked whether the same treatment would be given to someone who would come tomorrow on a business visa and start giving statements against the prime minister.

The court ordered the ministry to bring details of the policy in the next hearing.

Moreover, it ordered Ritchie to stop making any controversial statements against politicians.

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