ISLAMABAD: In view of increasing intolerance and crimes against minorities, the Supreme Court office has sent reminders to important offices, including those of the prime minister and the chief ministers, asking them to furnish compliance reports about implementation of the court’s June 19 verdict.
Taking notice of the Sept 22, 2013, bomb attack on a church in Peshawar in which 81 people had lost their lives, former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had, through a 32-page judgment, issued a set of guidelines for the government in a bid to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance.
The verdict had highlighted the need for developing appropriate curricula for schools and colleges, constituting a task force for developing religious tolerance and establishing a specially trained police force to protect minorities’ places of worship.
During the proceedings of the case, the court had also received complaints from Hindus and their request for protection of their places of worship. The court had also taken notice of issues such as threats to the Kalash tribe and Ismailis in Chitral, forced conversions of Hindu girls, the registration of minorities’ marriages, etc.
The apex court had also directed its office to open a separate file, to be placed before a three-judge bench, to ensure that the judgment was fully implemented in letter and spirit. The bench would be free to entertain complaints or petitions relating to violation of fundamental rights of minorities.
The fresh reminders have been issued against the backdrop of Nov 6 lynching of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan, about 60km southwest of Lahore, over alleged act of blasphemy.
The reminders have been sent to the prime minister’s secretary, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt, secretaries of the cabinet and establishment divisions, law and parliamentary affairs, religious and minorities affairs, foreign affairs and information technology, capital administration, chief ministers, chief secretaries, inspectors general of the four provinces and Islamabad and the chief commissioner of Islamabad capital territory.
The Supreme Court office had sent certified copies of the June 19 verdict to the government departments asking them to submit compliance reports on implementation of the ruling.
But despite the lapse of over four months, no compliance report was submitted to the court. The fresh reminders ask the government departments to immediately submit the reports.
The verdict had asked the federal government to take appropriate measures to ensure that hate speeches in social media were discouraged and the violators brought to justice.
The verdict also called for constitution of a national council for minority rights, to be tasked with monitoring the actual situation of the rights and safeguards provided to minorities under the law. The court was unequivocal in its directions to the federal and provincial governments to ensure enforcement of the policy regarding quota for minorities in all services.
Likewise, in cases of violation of any of the rights guaranteed under the law or desecration of the minorities’ places of worship, law-enforcement agencies should take prompt action, including registration of criminal cases against the delinquents, the verdict said.
Published in Dawn, November 11th , 2014