ISLAMABAD: In its detailed judgement in the Khatm-i-Nubuwat case, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has said the functionaries of the law ministry deliberately changed the affidavit about the finality of Prophethood. Parliament initially overlooked the changes but then restored the original affidavit.
The IHC verdict authored by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, issued on Wednesday, directed the federal government to make public the report that was prepared by Senator Raja Zafarul Haq after looking into the matter.
“In my opinion,” Justice Siddiqui said, “parliamentarians either exhibited casual approach or failed to realise the sensitivity of the issue and, to this end, could not expose the plot against the Constitution... (T)he parliamentarians failed to give due deference and importance to this delicate issue which is evident from proceedings of Senate’s 267th session held on Friday, the 22nd September, 2017.”
Turning specifically to the issue of changes made in an affidavit about Khatm-i-Nubuwat, the verdict said: “It appears that a deliberate and motivated effort was made by the draftsmen of the bill to bring Qadianis [Ahmadis] in the loop of majority in order to diminish their separate identity as non-Muslims.”
Verdict says parliament made amends after realising gravity of situation
The court praised Senator Haq “for his legal acumen as a lawyer and experienced legislator”. “With his honesty and wisdom,” said the judgement, “he handled all the points very comprehensively, which annulled all the negative impressions.”
The IHC verdict quoted the report prepared by Senator Haq and said that Zahid Hamid — the then former law minister who was chairman of the committee that drafted the Elections Act 2017 — had admitted his failure to identify and remove the mistake of draftsmen.
Members of several religious parties staged a sit-in in Faizabad in November last year and paralysed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for over two weeks. They dispersed only after a deal was facilitated by the army under which the law minister tendered his resignation.
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 minorities in most institutions, including parliament.
“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 judgement stated. To prevent this disobedience, the state must take immediate measures, it added.
The IHC ruled that parliament might formulate necessary laws or suitably amend the existing ones to ensure that all the terms specifically used for “Islam” and “Muslims” were not used by persons belonging to any of the minorities for hiding their real identity or for any other purpose.
The verdict also noted that soon after the emergence of legal lacunae in the Elections Act 2017, parliament through its collective wisdom and understanding displayed complete sensitivity towards the matter of Khatm-i-Nubuwat and brought the law in conformity with the requirements of the Constitution.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018