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SC irked over formation of minorities commission by federal govt

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard the suo motu notice on minority rights on Thursday.

The top court expressed frustration over the formation of a government commission for minorities while the court had already formed its own.

CJP questioned the deputy attorney general regarding the issue to which he also claimed ambiguity.

“The government can form as many commissions as it wants, but it cannot fiddle with a judicial commission,” the chief justice said.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Religious Affairs's report, the apex court summoned the secretary for religious affairs to inquire about the formation of the new commission. The court adjourned the hearing for some time to allow the secretary to reach the court.

However, the court was informed that the official could not appear as he was in Karachi.

Speaking to the Joint Secretary Arshad Farid, Justice Ejaz-ul-Haq ordered the submission of a detailed report containing all the information.

Justice Faisal Arab also ordered the commission to work according to its mandate.

During the hearing, minority leader and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani maintained that the Federal Minister for Human Rights Shirin Mazari and Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri did not work on the Minority Act, adding that the provinces cooperated but the federation and the religious affairs ministry did not.

The Supreme Court has summoned the secretary religious affairs and secretary education at the next hearing along with a detailed report on the minority commission.

Judicial Commission chief Dr Shoaib Suddle has also been summoned for the next hearing.

The case has been adjourned till October 23.

Earlier this month, the SC had proposed forming a bench to implement the 2014 judgement in the protection of religious minorities’ rights case.

The apex court had resumed hearing the case and sought a report from the federal and provincial governments in the matter within a month.

The matter for the formation of the implementation bench was later referred to Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.

In its landmark 2014 judgement, authored by then chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani, the apex court had suggested a framework for the protection of minorities. One of the recommendations in the verdict was also the creation of a national council to oversee the matters of the minorities.

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