ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Thursday expressed its annoyance over the reconstitution of minorities’ commission by the federal government.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed stated that when the court had already constituted a minority commission, then why the federal government has set up another commission.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice conducted hearing of a suo moto notice regarding the non-implementation of apex court judgment on minorities’ issues. 

In this matter, the bench also summoned Secretaries Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony & Ministry of Education and directed them to submit a report on practical steps taken for addressing the minorities’ issues. It was January 8, 2019 when the former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had set up a one-man commission of Shoaib Suddle for the implementation of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani’s judgment.

Para 37(iv) of ex-CJP Jillani’s judgment dated, June 19, 2014, said; “A National Council for minorities’ rights be constituted. The function of the said Council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realization 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.”

On May 12, 2020, the PTI government has notified the reconstituted National Commission for Minorities, headed by Chela Ram Kewlani, ex-president of Pakistan Hindu Council and a leader of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in Sindh, and comprised six official and 12 non-official members including the chairman for a term of three years.

During the hearing, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan said that they have no objection that the government has formed the commissions but it could not interfere with the commission constituted by the Supreme Court.

PTI MNA Ramesh Kumar criticized the Ministry of Religious Affairs saying that the government is not cooperating with the commission set up by the Supreme Court.

Justice Gulzar inquired from the Joint Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs what measures have been taken regarding the education syllabus and the jobs.

Advocate General, Islamabad, informed that security had been provided to 108 worship places and implementing the minority quota.

After hearing them, the bench adjourned the hearing till October 23 for further proceedings.

Registrar One-Man Commission on May 8 this year had filed a contempt application that secretary ministry of religious affairs be directed to implement para 37(iv) of the Supreme Court in true spirit and meaningful consultation with One-Man Commission.

It also prayed that the secretary be ordered to withdraw any notification issued or to be issued in contravention of MORA’s undertaking before the apex court. It requested the apex court to direct the secretary 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.