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We will uproot political nepotism at all costs: CJP

20 January, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Hearing a suo motu case pertaining to Katas Raja Temple in Chakwal, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday pledged to uproot ‘political nepotism’ from the country come what may.

Heading a three-member Supreme Court bench also including Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the CJP expressed severe dismay over the absence of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Siddiqul Farooq. He recalled that Farooq was directed to appear before the court on every hearing but he did not bother to turn up, thus he deserved to be removed from his post. He said the court could constitute a new board of the ETPB.

The CJP ordered that details of all the properties being held by the ETPB as well as their income be submitted in the court within two weeks. He made it clear that if the details were not furnished within the stipulated time, the ETPB chairman should keep himself ready to go home. He remarked that the eligibility of Siddiqul Farooq to head the ETPB was his 30-year long political service, adding that a man who used to gather newspapers at the party secretariat has been given charge of a key post. He said a person who holds charge of such a slot has to see legal matters as well as part of his responsibilities. “On next hearing, I will ask Siddiqul Farooq to write a paragraph on a legal point,” the chief justice said, adding that “we will not allow the institutions to be run in such a way and when the institutions will not perform their function, then the court will intervene.”

“Eyes have to be kept open here … we will uproot the political nepotism at all costs,” the CJP remarked.

The CJP noted that a property on Mall Road in Lahore being owned by Fazal Din was in fact the property of the ETPB. He said the shops and flats were being rented out on very low rates. He said the ETPB was getting a rent of only Rs 6000 for these shops and flats which was ridiculous. He maintained that the land belonging to the ETPB was being openly sold and purchased.

“Why shouldn’t we take over the ETPB?” the chief justice asked PML-N parliamentarian Dr Ramesh Kumar, who is chairman of Pakistan Hindu Council and was present in the court. Kumar stated that the chairman of the ETPB should be from the minority community, adding that in Israel, the ETPB chairman is a member of the minority community.

The court noted that the processes of the cement factories around the Katas Raj Temple were badly affecting the underground water, for which concrete steps were required to be taken. He said all the limestone mined from Chakwal was being exported to India. The court directed that Katas Raj Temple pond must continue to be filled with water and issued notices to owners of the cement factories to file their responses over negative impacts of their industrial units on the water degradation and overall environment of the area. He said the court did not want to create an unwanted situation by ordering closure of the cement factories in Chakwal.

To a court query that idols disappeared from the temple, Kumar said when pilgrims come from India, the board hurriedly places the idols in the temple and when they go back after performing rituals, the idols are removed.

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