Faith declaration must for govt jobs, rules IHC

Published March 10, 2018
JUSTICE Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui commends Senator Raja Zafarul Haq for authoring the report on the change of declaration related to finality of Prophethood.
JUSTICE Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui commends Senator Raja Zafarul Haq for authoring the report on the change of declaration related to finality of Prophethood.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday issued a short order on a petition against an attempt to change the declaration regarding finality of Prophethood in the Elections Act 2017 and made declaration of faith mandatory before joining the judiciary, armed forces, civil services and other government jobs.

In the verdict, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC said an affidavit must be sworn by applicants in order to get computerised national identity card (CNIC), passport, birth certificate, for registration in voters list and appointment in government and semi-government institutions especially the judiciary, armed forces and civil services.

The court declared that appointment of non-Muslims to constitutional posts was against the organic law and rituals. Non-Muslims did not qualify to be elected to certain constitutional offices, Justice Siddiqui said, explaining that there were seats reserved for non-Muslims (minorities) in most of the institutions including parliament.

Government directed to probe into ‘visible difference’ in the population record of Ahmadis in recent census

“When any member of the minority group conceals his/her religion and belief through fraudulent means ... is actually an open defiance to the words and spirit of the Constitution,” the judge stated. To prevent this disobedience, the state must take immediate measures, he declared, adding that a citizen doing so would betray the state resulting in exploitation of the Constitution.

Justice Siddiqui observed that minorities residing in Pakistan held a separate identification in reference to their names “but one of the minorities did not hold a distinct identification due to their names general attire according to the Constitution”. “Due to their names they can easily mask their belief and become part of Muslim majority,” he stated, “[and] they can gain access to dignified and sensitive posts resulting in accumulation of all benefits.”

The IHC ruled that parliament may make necessary legislation and amendments to the existing laws to ensure that all the terms specifically used for ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ were not used by the persons belonging to any of the minorities for hiding their real identity or for any other purpose.

“The matter of absolute and unqualified finality of prophethood of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the last of the Prophets, is the nucleus of our religion,” the order stated.

It asked the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to fix a time frame for citizens who intended to make correction or change in the already given particulars, especially religion. The court also advised all the institutions to engage Muslim teachers for teaching Islamiat/Deenyat as subject.

Justice Siddiqi asked the government to take immediate steps to conduct an inquiry concerning “alarming and visible difference” in the population record of Qadianis/Ahmadis available with Nadra and figures collected through recent census. The data of the 1998 census shows that the population of Qadianis/Ahmadis was recorded as 286,212 while the data recently provided by Nadra shows that just over 167,000 Qadianis were registered in Pakistan and 10,205 had changed their religious status from Muslim to Qadiani.

“It is binding on the State to take care of the rights, feelings and religious beliefs of the Muslim Ummah and to also ensure the protection of rights of minorities in the light of teachings of Islam being the religion declared by the Constitution of the country,” Justice Siddiqui stated.

In the order, the court noted that soon after the emergence of legal lacunae in the Elections Act 2017, parliament by its collective wisdom and understanding displayed complete sensitivity towards the matter of Khatm-i-Nubuwat and brought it in conformity with the requirements of the Constitution. “These matters demand such sensitivity and unity,” he stated.

Justice Siddiqui commended Senator Raja Zafarul Haq for authoring the report on the change of declaration related to finality of Prophethood and observed that parliament handled this issue with utmost care and wisdom.

“It is mandatory for every Muslim to guard and protect this nucleus,” the judge said, adding that other than the protection of the basic belief of Khatm-i-Nubuwat, “parliament being the guardian of religious core should also take measure that can completely terminate those who scar this belief”.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2018

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