In the long-awaited written order on the alteration of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has held the Parliament as a whole and two former federal ministers responsible for the controversial changes in the Election Act, 2017.
The court also ordered for Senator Raja Zafarul Haq’s report to be made public.
“It is for the Parliament which can explain the real intent but prima facie it appears that a deliberate and motivated effort was made by the draftsmen of the bill to bring Qadianis in the loop of majority in order to diminish their separate identity as non-muslims. I observe with great concern that all the members of the National Assembly as also the Senators (without distinction of parties) failed to identify the motive, lacuna and an effort to frustrate constitutional amendment through simple enactment which is not permissible under the law,” the written order reads.
Haq’s report on the matter also held former federal minister Anusha Rehman and Zahid Hamid responsible for the alterations to the Election Act 2017.
“Hamid was also member of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms and Convenor of its Sub Committee, during a meeting held on this issue, admitted to the fact that basically it was his primary responsibility to see that the draft does not contain anything controversial but somehow he felt that he failed to perform his duty despite his legal acumen; experience and command of language,” the order further stated.
“It has come to the court’s knowledge that the committee had to circulate with its annexure, the revision, however, the convenor of the subcommittee asked the NA officials to not circulate the said record. In view of the above-mentioned facts, it is obvious that it was a failure on such a sensitive and sacred issue, on the part of Zahid Hamid, the Convenor of the Sub Committee, member of the PCER and Federal Minister for Law and Justice,” Justice Siddiqui said in the order.
However, the court acknowledged the role of the Parliament and said that when the final draft was sent to PCER for final approval, the members who represented all the parliamentary parties did not notice any changes related to the Khatm-e-Nabuwat clause.
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif had set up a three-member committee to probe into the reasons behind the change in the wordings of the clause that was passed by the National Assembly. However, after heavy backlash, the government passed another bill through the Parliament to restore the clause to its original form.
The inquiry committee was headed by PML-N chairperson Raja Zafarul Haq, with then interior minister Ahsan Iqbal and climate change minister Mushahidullah as its members.
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