ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony to decide the pending application seeking official holidays for Hindu employees on the occasion of their religious festivals.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq issued these directions in the petition wherein it had earlier reserved the judgement after hearing the arguments.

The court stated in the verdict, “At the very outset, learned counsel for the petitioner was confronted, as to which fundamental right of the petitioner, has been violated; in response, it was submitted that religious events of Hindus are not declared holidays. In this behalf, even an application was filed by the petitioner which is still pending before the respondents.”

It added, “Arguments advanced by learned counsel for the petitioner have been heard and the documents, placed on record, examined with his able assistance.”

The IHC bench noted, “The grievance of the petitioner is that Hindu religious events be declared as holidays and in this behalf, made an application to respondent No 1 (Ministry of Religious Affairs) which has not been decided so far. It is appropriate that matter be decided by the said respondent.”

It further said, “In view of above, respondent No 1 is directed to decide pending request of the petitioner in accordance with law expeditiously.” After issuing these directions, the bench disposed of the petition.

In this matter, a resident of Islamabad Pandat Ashok Chand moved the court through his counsel Chaudhry Yasir Mehmood Advocate and cited federal government through Secretary Ministry of Religious Affairs, Secretary Establishment Division and Secretary Cabinet Division as respondents.

During the hearing, petitioner’s counsel prayed to the court that the Hindu employees should be given holidays officially on their religious festivals ‘Holli’ and ‘Diwali’ etc as it was their basic right.

He further added that the court may issue directives to the government for announcement of advance salaries as well for these employees on special occasions.

Justice Aamir asked the lawyer to explain that how the basic rights of minority sect were affected. To this Yasir Advocate said that the Constitution protects the rights of minorities as well and this petition was filed in this context.

The bench remarked that this was the power of executive and only it could take decision in this regard.