Supreme Court vows to ensure protection of minorities’ rights

Supreme Court vows to ensure protection of minorities’ rights

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked on Thursday that the Supreme Court will ensure that the rights of minorities are protected according to the Constitution.

The remarks were made during the hearing of the Katas Rat Temple case.

On November 2, the chief justice took a suo motu notice of the drying out of the Katas Raj Temple pond in Chakwal. The pre-historic fabled pond is said to be drying out because of the large amount of water consumption in cement factories nearby

During today’s hearing, the three-member bench headed by the chief justice asked why a need is created for the judiciary to interfere in matters of governance.

Coming down hard on the government over its failure to protect the Hindu community’s revered site, the chief justice asked what the government is doing about the matter.

Dr Ramesh Kumar, the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which deals with minorities’ issues in the country, should be a non-Muslim.

Kumar, a member of the National Assembly from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appointed in 2013 PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq as the ETPB chairman instead of late Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas.

Questioning the ground for Farooq’s appointment at the ETPB, the chief justice remarked that political appointments are taking place, adding that a respectable person should be made the ETPB chairman.

“If he [Farooq] is not doing his job right, why shouldn’t he be removed from his post,” the chief justice observed.

He also observed that the court had earlier directed Farooq to visit the temple in Chakwal to ascertain the on-ground situation.

The Supreme Court also remarked that the trust is being misused and is not doing what it was formed to do. It said further that the trust’s land is given for long leases, and summoned the complete details of properties owned by the trust.

The chief justice remarked that the court will ensure that minorities’ rights are protected, as laid out by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

He observed further that Pakistan’s Constitution protects the rights of minorities.

The hearing was then adjourned until December 12.

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