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IHC throws out plea seeking ban on construction of temple in Islamabad

Islamabad National

IHC throws out plea seeking ban on construction of temple in Islamabad

TP 1 month ago
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Islamabad (TP) July 7, 2020: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday disposed of a petition seeking a ban on the construction of a temple in the federal capital while declaring it infructuous.

In a short verdict, which was reserved last week, the court noted that the since the federal government has referred the matter to the Council of Islamic Ideology before issuing the sum for the temple and no amount had yet been disbursed, the grievance of the petitioner(s) on the specific issue stand allayed and has become infructuous, for the time being.

“Moreover, the contention that financing of the project by the federal government to a small Hindu population in the area of Islamabad Capital Territory is waste of public money also does not call for any finding as to the matter, at present, has been halted,” the IHC said.

About the allotment of the plot by Capital Development Authority, the court said that “the objection had no basis inasmuch as the designated plot was not provided in the master plan and rather a broad outline of areas for various purposes is given”. The court noted that the CDA through the layout plans and the decisions through its chairman/board develops sectors and sub-sectors and designate plots.

“The representative of Capital Development Authority and the counsel for authority submitted that the sub-sector H-9/2 has plots allocated for the graveyard of minorities, hence on that basis, the allocation was made,” said the verdict.

The court said that it seemed that the allottee namely Islamabad Hindu Panchayat did not adhere to the rules and regulations of the CDA by submitting the building plan and seeking its approval and on the said basis the construction of the plot was stopped.

“Even otherwise Capital Development Authority is entitled to take appropriate action in accordance with the term of the allotment (Clauses 3 and 24 of Allotment letter dated 26.12.2017) and its laws for violation of the terms of allotment if any,” the court added.

“The fact remains that no construction at present is taking place at the site, and is unlikely to commence till the compliance is made with terms of allotment and Capital Development Authority laws.”

The court said that the CDA still to approve building plan as and when the same was submitted and while doing so can holistically review the matter. “It is an admitted position that no construction on any site can commence by any allottee/lessee unless it complies with the rules and regulations of the Capital Development Authority.”

The petition was filed by a citizen terming the construction of the temple in violation of the CDA master plan.

The petitioner had requested the court to issue a stay order on the construction of the temple.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved a grant of Rs100 million for the construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad. The CDA had allotted 20,000 square feet plot in H-9/2 to Hindu Panchayat on February 20, 2018, on the orders of the National Commission for Human Rights.

On June 24, the Hindu Panchyat Islamabad had laid the foundation stone of Hindu temple in sector H-9/2 Islamabad before the CDA intervened to stop the construction of the boundary wall after a section of the electronic media ran a blistering campaign on the issue.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MANA Lal Chand while talking to The Punch said that after the CDA gave possession of the plot, they submitted an application on May 19, 2020, seeking permission for the construction of the boundary wall. He said that when the CDA did not come with a response, the Hindu Panchayat Islamabad decided to construct the boundary wall on their own as, according to him, some unscrupulous elements were attempting to grab the plot.

The possession letter of the plot issued by the CDA in 2018

Lal Chand said that they have again filed an application with the CDA seeking permission for the construction of the boundary wall as some elements razed the foundation wall of the temple soon after it was laid down last week.

Hindu Panchayat Islamabad application submitted to CDA on May 19, 2020

CDA spokesperson Mazhar Hussain while talking to The Punch said that the Hindu Panchayat Islamabad did not get the permission letter from the authority for the construction of the boundary wall.

He admitted that the CDA had issued the possession letter of the plot but the stakeholders did not have the permission for the construction of the boundary wall. He expressed his ignorance about the Hindu Panchayat Islamabad application of May 19, seeking permission for the construction of the boundary wall.

The CDA spokesman said that since the matter has been pending with the Prime Minister’s Office, whatever directives the authority gets in this regard, they will oblige.

Critics say that the CDA enforcement team got the construction work the boundary wall of the temple after religious groups made hue and cry, terming the construction of the temple against what they claim basic foundation of Pakistan which, according to them, had been created in the name of Islam. The assertion has no basis as the founder of the nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah had elucidated the contours of the state very clearly when he said in 1947 “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of State.”

The Krishna temple is supposed to be built on a four-canal of land in H-9 sector of Islamabad, which will have the first temple after partition in 1947.  Since a relatively small number of Hindus live in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and surrounding areas, this new temple will only welcome them once it is built with donations and government funding.

Prior to the partition, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs used to live with religious harmony in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, abandoning behind temples, gurudwaras and shrines only to be destroyed, grabbed and demolished by their Muslim compatriots.

There exist a small but abandoned temple and a Sikh gurudwara in the scenic Saidpur village of Islamabad, where no religious ritual takes place and the vestiges are open only for sight-seeing of the visitors.

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