The Supreme Court expressed displeasure over the absence of the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) during Friday's hearing of the Katas Raj suo motu case.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing a suo motu case based on media reports that the Katas Raj pond is drying out due to water consumption by nearby cement factories.
The bench had earlier summoned details of litigation pending in different courts concerning the ETPB. The court had also highlighted the need to conduct an audit of the funds spent on the rehabilitation of temples in different parts of the country.
During today's hearing, the chief justice recalled that the court had ordered ETPB Chairman Siddiqui Farooq to appear for every hearing.
"Land belonging to the ETPB is being sold and bought," the chief justice said. "What is happening?"
"Why don't we take over the ETPB?" he added. "Ramesh Kumar, will you be part of our campaign?" Chief Justice Nisar asked, addressing the PML-N parliamentarian who was present in court for the hearing.
Kumar, the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told the bench that in Israel, the chairman of the ETPB is a member of the minority community. In a previous hearing of the case, Kumar had regretted that the Katas Raj complex has 16 employees, all of them Muslim.
The board hurriedly places idols in the temple when pilgrims come from India, but later removes them once the rituals have been completed, he had said.
"You are from the ruling party," the chief justice told the MNA and asked him why he had not attempted to form similar legislation in Pakistan.
"We cannot change the law. Do you want us to do the things your leadership could not do?" the chief justice questioned.
Chief Justice Nisar said that the processes of the cement factories around the Katas Raj temple are affecting the water underground. On December 13, the apex court had ordered Bestway Cement in Chakwal to fill up the Katas Raj temple's pond.
"Why don't we stop the expansion of cement factories?" the chief justice asked, ordering that the Katas Raj pond must be filled continuously. The bench issued notices to the owners of the cement factories and asked them to file their responses before the court.
"Our religion and our Constitution give protection to minorities. We will hear the problems of the Hindu, Christian and Sikh communities," he said.
During today's hearing, the chief justice also commented on the anti-parliamentary remarks made by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid at a rally in Lahore on Wednesday night.
"No matter what anyone says about the parliament, our stance is that the parliament is supreme," Chief Justice Nisar said.
The hearing was adjourned for two weeks.
Katas Raj temple
The Katas Raj temple is one of the Hindu community's most well-known places of worship. The name of the temple complex is a derivative of Kataksha, a Sanskrit word meaning “tearful eyes”.
According to legend, its fabled pond was formed from the the tears of Lord Shiva as he wept uncontrollably upon the death of Sati, his wife.
The pond occupies an area of two kanals and 15 marlas, with a maximum depth of 20 feet.