LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the federal and provincial governments to submit their plans for the payment of compensation to those who lost their lives and properties during protests held by religious organisations against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed dissatisfaction over reports submitted by the governments of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa about the loss of lives and damage caused to private property by the protesters.
“What action has been taken against those who issued fatwas (edicts) of murder?” the chief justice asked the government’s lawyers.
CJP asks government what action has been taken against those who issued murder edicts during protests held against Aasia verdict
A Punjab law officer told the bench that as many as 2,936 activists and their leaders had been detained. He said 503 cases were registered, including 26 under terrorism charges. He further stated that the damage caused to public property had been estimated at Rs40.6 million.
“Who will compensate those who lost their vehicles and got injured during the protests?” asked the chief justice.
The law officer said the damage to private property was estimated at Rs3.3m in the province.
The government should have invited the claims through newspaper advertisement, observed Justice Ijazul Ahsan and said the report was not satisfactory, rather a faulty one.
An additional home secretary told the bench that the matter of mode of compensation amount would soon be taken up by the provincial cabinet.
Chief Justice Nisar said he knew that the cabinet decided to take up the issue after the court took notice. “The government has to establish its writ (and) not those who paralysed the country to protest a judgement,” remarked the chief justice.
The Sindh IGP told the bench that 342 protesters were arrested in 41 cases registered by the police. The report filed by the KP government showed that 62 people were arrested. It said the protesters had not caused any major damage to public and private property in the province. An officer from Islamabad said no incident of ransacking or damage was reported in the federal capital.
The chief justice ordered the federal and the provincial governments to submit comprehensive plans about payment of the compensation to the people who lost their vehicles, properties or life during the protests.
The hearing was adjourned for two weeks.
Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2018