ISLAMABAD            -         The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday (today) will take up an Intra Court Appeal (ICA) challenging a single bench’s verdict wherein it had disposed of the writ petitions challenging the government’s decision to construct a Hindu temple in the federal capital.

A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani will take up the ICA filed by a lawyer Chaudhary Tanveer Akhtar. The petitioner Chaudhary Tanveer filed the ICA in person and cited Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Federal Minister for Interior, Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) and chairman CDA board as respondents.

Earlier, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq disposed of three identical petitions filed by lawyer Chaudhary Tanveer Akhtar, Muhammad Yahya Ahmed Minhas and Khushnood Ahmad Khan.

The IHC bench said in its judgment that the representative of Capital Development Authority and learned counsel for Authority submitted that sub-sector H-9/2 has plots allocated for graveyard of minorities, hence on that basis the allocation was made.

It added, “It seems that the allottee namely IHP (Institute of Hindu Panchayat) did not adhere to the Rules and Regulations of Capital Development Authority by submitting building plan and seeking its approval and on the said basis the construction of plot was stopped. Even otherwise Capital Development Authority is entitled to take appropriate action in accordance with the term of the allotment (Clauses 3 and 24 of Allotment letter dated 26.12.2017) and its laws for violation of the terms of allotment, if any.”

“The fact remains that no construction at present is taking place at the site, in question and is unlikely to commence till compliance is made with terms of allotment and Capital Development Authority laws. As noted above, Capital Development Authority is still to approve building plan as and when the same is submitted and while doing so can holistically review the matter. It is an admitted position that no construction on any site can commence by any allottee/lessee unless it complies with the Rules and Regulations of Capital Development Authority,” maintained the court.

Justice Aamer noted, “For what has been stated above, no occasion arises for this Court to interfere; hence the above-mentioned petitions are disposed of accordingly. However, in future if the petitioners have any grievance in the matter they may agitate the matter again.”

Petitioner Chaudhary Tanveer had contended that the plot could not have been allotted for the purposes of establishment of temple for Hindu Community in Sector H-9/2, Islamabad as there is no such allocation of land in the Master Plan of Islamabad Capital Territory. It was further contended that there is no need for construction of the temple inasmuch as the Islamabad Capital Territory has small Hindu Community and there is already a temple for the said purpose in Saidpur Village. It was further contended that in the facts and circumstances, the allotment of land is in violation of Capital Development Authority laws including Rules and Regulations.

Petitioner Yahya’s counsel Muhammad Shafiq-ur-Rehman Dab adopted that permission by the Federal Government and funding of the construction of Mandir in Islamabad Capital Territory is in violation of Article 2-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. It was further contended that no new church or temple or any place of worship for non-Muslims can be established in light of Hadiths on the subject.   

Petitioner Khushnood argued that there are already three temples in the areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad Capital Territory, which duly cater the needs of Hindu Community in the area. It was further contended that allocation and funding by the Federal Government for construction of Hindu Temple especially in the times of COVID-19 pandemic amounts to wasting the public money.

The counsel for CDA informed the court that land was allotted for establishment of Temple Community Center and Cremation to Institute of Hindu Panchayat (IHP) on 26.12.2017. It was submitted that in the subsector H-9/2, Islamabad graveyards of the minorities are situated on land/plot allotted by Capital Development Authority and the referred sub-sector is designated for such purposes. It was further contended that though the construction commenced but was stopped by Capital Development Authority as no formal approval of the building plan was obtained from the Competent Authority. It was reiterated that plot has not been allotted solely for Temple but the site is to include temple, community centre and place for cremation.

The Deputy Attorney General stated that no funding has yet been disbursed by the Federal Government for the purposes of construction of temple. It was further submitted that the matter has been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology for rendering its opinion regarding funding of money for the purposes of temple, etc. which was confirmed by representative of Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony. It was submitted that even otherwise there is no bar for the allottee to construct temple on its own in light of the fact that under Article 20 of public order and morality.