The Supreme Court on Monday directed the government to share Pakistan’s extradition agreements (if any) with the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States as it heard a plea challenging a terror suspect’s extradition to the US.
“Are there extradition agreements with the US and the UK?” asked the apex court while hearing a petition filed by Talha Haroon, who fears he will be extradited to the US over alleged involvement in the New York Times Square bombing.
The court meanwhile issued a stay order barring the government from extraditing Haroon while it hears the case.
The court, while summoning the details from the attorney general and foreign ministry, directed the officials to present details of how many prisoners were extradited from and to Pakistan from the US and the UK.
During the hearing, Justice Qazi Amin wondered how can the extradition be possible if there was no agreement between Pakistan and the two countries.
“America takes whomever it wants without any agreement [but] what is the evidence on the basis of which the accused should be handed over?” asked Justice Qazi Amin. He added that Pakistan is a sovereign state, and asked how the country can hand over its citizen to another country.
“We will protect our citizens but we will do it as per the law,” observed Justice Amin.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that the apex court had also issued orders to extradite former Pakistani envoy Hussain Haqqani, which were never executed.
He also brought attention to the fact that a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court had ruled in his client’s case that the “evidence was not admissible”.
Tariq Mahmood, the counsel in question, also told the apex court that in the intra-court appeal, the IHC had asked the magistrate to first determine the accused’s guilt.
He added that his client feared that the magistrate may carry out an inquiry just for the sake of satisfying the IHC’s condition and subsequently issue orders to extradite Haroon.
The court, after listening to the lawyer, sought the details of Pakistan’s extradition agreements with the US and UK and adjourned the hearing of the case for two weeks.
In May 2019, a single-member bench of the IHC had barred authorities from extraditing Haroon and ordered the American investigating officer on the case and Haroon’s council to appear before an inquiry magistrate. The court had directed the magistrate to wrap up the case within 60 days.
Later, the federal government and the accused had filed an intra-court appeal against the decision. In August 2020, the bench upheld the decision but removed the condition that US investigating officer will have to appear before an inquiry magistrate in Pakistan, making the extradition easier.
Following the decision, the Haroon’s family had approached the apex court against the decision.