IHC reserves verdict on petitions against construction of temple

Updated 07 Jul 2020

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IHC is likely to announce the verdict today as the counsel for the petitioners was not available. — ihc.gov.pk/File
IHC is likely to announce the verdict today as the counsel for the petitioners was not available. — ihc.gov.pk/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday reserved its verdict on identical petitions filed against the construction of a Hindu temple in Sector H-9/2 of Islamabad as the government is writing to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for seeking its guidance.

Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC reserved the decision on the petition. However, the court is likely to announce the verdict on Tuesday (today) as the counsel for the petitioners was not available and he might be heard on Tuesday.

In his concluding arguments, Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid Mehmood Khan, representing the federal government, said the plot measuring 3.89 kanals for the temple was allotted in January 2017. The plot was handed over to the Hindu Punchayat in 2018.

He said the Ministry of Religious Affairs was supposed to construct the temple in question out of funds allocated for maintenance and rehabilitation of religious sites of minorities.

Govt approaches Council of Islamic Ideology for guidance on the issue

He said that since the construction cost of the temple was about Rs100 million, the matter had been referred to the prime minister who forwarded it to the CII.

Regarding criticism on construction of the temple, the deputy attorney general said that Article 20 of the Constitution very clearly allowed the freedom to profess religion.

The article states: “Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions — subject to law, public order and morality — (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.”

A representative of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) informed the court that the construction of the temple had been stopped as the layout plan of the worship site was not approved by the competent authority.

Meanwhile, Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri on Monday said that his ministry would write a letter to the CII regarding the construction of temple.

“The draft has been prepared and we will forward the letter on Tuesday (today) over this issue,” he said.

He was speaking at the “Paigham-i-Aman Conference” organised by Majlis Ulema-i-Pakistan held here at the National Press Club.

The minister said the government had decided to seek comments and guidance of the CII over the issue of giving official grant for construction of a temple.

“The only difference of opinion among certain segments with regard to the temple is whether the temple can be built with public money or not,” Mr Qadri said.

“Pakistan is for all, including Shia, Sunni Ahl-i-Hadith, Hindu, Christian, Parsi, etc.”

Maulana Syed Mohammad Abdul Khabir Azad, Khateeb of Lahore’s Badshahi Mosque and chairman of the Majlis Ulema-i-Pakistan, also addressed the conference.

In a related development, the Tehreek-i-Nifaz Fiqh Jafaria (TNFJ) has supported construction of the temple in the federal capital.

“Islam was spread through tolerance and wisdom, and not extremism. The Hindu temple in Islamabad should not be made controversial,” patron-in-chief of the Supreme Shia Ulema Board and TNFJ chief Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi said in a statement.

He said the state should not get blackmailed at the hands of some narrow-minded and extremist elements.

The TNFJ chief said: “Islam teaches us the lesson to select the same for others that you select for yourself.”

If there would be objections over worship of Hindus in Pakistan, there would be no justification for establishing mosques and community centres for Muslims in foreign countries.

Mr Moosavi said: “If Muslims are allowed to carry out preaching activities in non-Muslim countries then non-Muslims should also be provided facilities in Muslim countries to carry out their worship within their limits.”

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020