ISLAMABAD - Commission on Minorities on Thursday informed the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony (MORA) is not implementing the directions given in the SC judgment dated 19-06-2014.

 On January 8, 2019 the apex court had established a one-man commission for the implementation of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani’s judgment.

The para 37(iv) of ex-CJP Jillani’s verdict said, “A National Council for minorities’ rights be constituted. The function of the said Council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realisation of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the consultation and law. The Council also be mandated to frame policy recommendation for safeguarding and protecting minorities rights by the Provincial and Federal Governments.”

 In view of the said judgment, the SC bench headed by former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, set up a one-man commission presided

 over by Shoaib Suddle.

 

The Registrar of the Commission filed a contempt application in the apex court through Additional Attorney General Sajid Illyas Bhatti, saying that Secretary MORA be directed to implement para 37(iv) of Supreme Court in true spirit and meaningful consultation with Commission. The Secretary MORA be ordered to withdraw/withhold any notification issued or to be issued in contravention of MORA’s undertaking before the apex court.

 

It requested the apex court to direct Secretary MORA to explain why the undertaking given to the Supreme Court on 19-02-2020 in relation to establishment of statutory National Council for Minorities has been violated, which is tantamount to contempt of court.

 

It further requested that the Secretary MORA be asked to explain why he has continued to defy SC orders dated 03-10-2019 and 19-02-2020 that related to meaningful consultation with and transfer of a full budget to the Commission.

 

The petition said that on 19-02-2020 the Ministry had requested the apex court to grant some time to complete inter-ministerial consultations and table a bill in the parliament for necessary legislation. The Supreme Court accepting the government plea had directed that the progress report in the matter be placed before the Court with two months.

 

The petition went on to say that the one-man commission on 20-04-2020 had circulated a draft bill on the establishment of the National Council for Minorities to MORA and other stakeholders from the federal and provincial governments for their input, in addition to seeking feedback from civil society stakeholders and from minorities communities. The Commission expected that MORA would give its feedback to the Commission on the proposed draft bill but that has not happened.

 

It said that through media they have found out that MORA had moved a summary for the cabinet to reconstitute apparently an existing National Commission for Minorities. The MORA in defiance of Supreme Court order 03-10-2019 did not consult the Commission before moving the summary.

 

According to the summary the commission being proposed by MORA shall consist of six official members i.e. serving officers of the government and 12 non-official members – two Muslim members and ten members from the minorities. The Secretary MORA shall be ex-officio Secretary of this Commission.

 

The petition stated that if Minorities Commission of sorts was already in existence, then why the apex court was not informed about it before the SC judgment dated 19-06-2014.

 

It further said that the body proposed by MORA violates the commitment made before the Supreme Court on 19-02-2020. It contended that the proposed body does not have statutory backing and its very existence and composition would be at the whims and mercy of MORA.

 

It continued that the body proposed by MORA is fundamentally different from several statutory human rights institutions in Pakistan and it is also no in conformity with the Government of Pakistan international commitments.