The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the federal government to constitute a national council on religious minorities in a bid to protect them from rights abuses.
In a detailed 32-page ruling in the Peshawar church attack case, Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani ordered federal and provincial authorities to ensure that the rights of minority groups are protected in all spheres of activity.
The panel would be tasked to monitor and safeguard the rights provided to the minorities under the constitution.
Earlier this year, the three-member bench of the apex court, headed by CJ Jillani had taken suo motu action on a letter received from the Justice Helpline. The proceedings that stretched over six months, culminated in a judgment on Thursday, directing the government to form a police force to protect minority communities and their places of worship.
The judgment also states that all cases related to violation of minority rights should be dealt with swift action.
“We find that the incidents of desecration of places of worship of minorities could be warded off if the authorities had taken preventive measures at the appropriate time,” the verdict said.
The government was also directed to take appropriate steps to ensure that hate speeches on social media are discouraged and that individuals behind such acts are brought to justice.
The judgment added that there is a general lack of awareness about minority rights and those entrusted with enforcement of law are not fully sensitised to this issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2014.