Minorities’ rights: Curricula to promote tolerance, SC hears

Published: November 26, 2014
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A file photo of Supreme Court. PHOTO: REUTERS

A file photo of Supreme Court. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: 

The Supreme Court has sought reports from all provincial governments on implementation of its landmark June 19 judgment regarding protection of the rights of minority communities.

The apex court on June 19 had asked the federal government to constitute a national council for minorities’ rights and a special task force for the protection of minorities’ places of worship. It had also directed to develop appropriate curricula to promote religious tolerance and to curb hate speeches.

The top court in its June 19 ruling had also directed that the SC office shall open a separate file to be placed before the three-judge bench to ensure that this judgment is given effect to in letter and spirit.

It had also noted that the said bench may also entertain complaints/petitions concerning violation of fundamental rights of minorities in the country.

In view of its judgment, the top court on November 19 took up the matter after the passage of five months and issued a notice to attorney general of Pakistan (AGP).

During the Tuesday hearing, Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood appeared on behalf of the AGP before the SC’s three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, and submitted reports by Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony and Establishment Division.

The ministry said that in compliance with the court’s June 19 order, the prime minister has approved the reconstitution of National Commission for Minorities. It said the commission has already held its first meeting on November 13.

The ministry said it has already directed capital administration and all chief secretaries to develop appropriate curricula at school and college levels to promote tolerance.

“The ministry has already asked all chief secretaries, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take appropriate steps to discourage hate speeches in social media,” the report said.

In its report, the Establishment Division said it has directed all the departments to ensure five per cent quota of minorities in the jobs in view of the Article 260 (3) Constitution. According to the ministry, no complaint has been received so far in this regard.

Pakistan Hindu Council Chairman and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar appeared before the bench and lamented that the court’s landmark judgment was not implemented so far. “If the verdict was implemented by concerned authorities then incidents like burning of a Christian couple in Kasur could not happen,” he said.

Dr Ramesh said that whenever he raises voice over the issues of minorities in the National Assembly, the NA Speaker tells him that these are provincial matters. Upon this, the bench asked him to file written submissions about his grievances, adding that it could not ignore the rights of minorities.

Later the bench adjourned hearing of the case till December 16.

Kot Radha Kishan incident

Meanwhile, after going through the report of IG Punjab and Punjab’s Minorities Affairs Department on Kot Radha Kishan incident, the CJP decided to fix the matter before the bench and issued notices to concerned deputy and regional police officers (DPO and RPO).

On November 4, an angry mob had brutally killed a Christian couple after blaming it for desecrating pages of the Holy Quran in the Kot Radha Kishan area of Kasur. Earlier, the court on November 19 sought reports from IG Punjab and Punjab’s Ministry of Minorities Affairs’ secretary on the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2014.

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