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National

March 8, 2018

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No assembly speaker served notice, says Justice Siddiqui

ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Wednesday remarked that he has not sent notice to speaker of any assembly and reserved judgment in a petition against the amendment in the oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat in election act 2017 that court would announce on Friday March 9.

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Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Arshad Mehmood Kayani submitted before the court census data of 1981, 1998 and tentative data of the 2017 regarding Qadiani population in the country. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) through DAG also submitted the travel history of almost 6,000 persons, who obtained fresh passports after changing their religious status from Muslim to Qadiani.

Step-by-step data of introduction and passing of the Election Act 2017 from National Assembly (NA) and Senate was also produced before the court. All this issue emerged during November-December 2017 when a religious political party staged sit-in at Faizabad Interchange virtually blocking the twin cities.

Earlier, the IHC bench wasalso hearing the petition against Faizabad Dharna simultaneously with the petition of Maulana Allah Wasaya, who has challenged amendment in the oath of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat.

Later, the court separated the two matters and exclusively heard the petition challenging amendment in the oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat. The IHC bench had observed that September 1974 legislation declaring Qadianis non-Muslim has certain lacunas in it.

In this matter the bench heard seven religious scholars who rendered their assistance in this matter as amicus curiae (friends of the court) including Prof Dr Hafiz Hassan Madni, from Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Punjab Lahore; Dr Mohsin Naqvi, former member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII); Prof Dr Sahibzada Sajidur Rehman, a member of the CII; Mufti Muhammad Hussain Khalil Khel, from Karachi; Akram Sheikh advocate, Dr Aslam Khaki and Babar Awan.

The IHC bench had observed that the aim of this exercise is to forward suggestions to the legislature to improve the law regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwwat and take steps to ensure that no Qadiani could pose himself as Muslim. It had had put six questions before the six experts.

The questions were: Whether an Islamic state could introduce such a law on the basis of which a non-Muslim directly or indirectly could be considered and identified as a Muslim? Whether in an Islamic state, non-Muslims could be permitted to present themselves as Muslims? If a non-Muslim conceals his identity and introduces himself as Muslim, would it come under the definition of cheating/fraud with the state? If the answers to these questions are in affirmative, then what is the responsibility of the state? Isn't it mandatory for an Islamic state to be aware of the religion and ideologies of its citizens and to put in place an effective and wholesome mechanism for such identification? Is it a violation of the fundamental rights to inquire a citizen about his religion and religious ideology?

Almost all the amicus curiae told the court that concealing real faith is a crime, and act of cheating and fraud with the state. On March 5, the IHC bench had directed federal government to provide information that when decision to enact Election Act 2017 was taken and by whom? Who prepared the draft bill and particulars of the committee consisting parliamentarians/experts/secretaries etc and who accorded approval of the draft bill? On which date, the cabinet assented for presentation in the National Assembly (NA) and on which date the same was tabled before NA? Whether the bill was had after some deliberations or without this exercise? Total number of NA members in attendance when bill was tabled, and who voted for and against the bill? When this bill was presented before Senate, after approval from National Assembly? Whether any amendment was proposed in draft bill before both houses, if so, by whom and as to whether proposed amendment was carried or not? What are the particulars of the members who favoured the amendment and those who opposed it? What was the result of proposed amendments? Dates on which final amendment introduced and approved by the parliament?

This data has also been provided to the court. Previously, the court was told that as per 1998 census, there were 286, 212 Qadianis in Pakistan while Nadra submitted recent record according to which more than 167,000 persons were registered as Qadiani in Pakistan. Nadra also told the court that 10,205 persons changed their religious status from Muslim to Qadiani and 6001 applied and got fresh passports after change of religion.

IHC bench was hearing in the petition of Maulana Allah Wasaya who has challenged the amendments in the oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat in Election Act 2017.

The petitioner Maulana Allah Wasaya has been contending before the court that an amendment was made in Election Act 2017 (EA-2017) regarding oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat and on hue and cry of the entire nation, another amendment to the Act was brought on October 19, 2017 through which sections 7B and 7C of the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 have been revived whereas all other laws repealed through Act of October 2, 2017 still remained repealed. He said through an illusion, effort has been made to satisfy the citizens of Pakistan. He prayed to the court to direct Ministry of Law to immediately take all necessary measures for revival of all provisions, which were in existence prior to the promulgation of the Elections Act, 2017, relating to Qadiani group/Lahori group in their entirety with a further direction to the said respondent to ensure that all such provisions have been made part of the primary legislation i.e the Elections Act, 2017.

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