Pak SC Bans Land Deals Around Minority Shrines

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
Pak SC Bans Land Deals Around Minority Shrines
Pakistan's Supreme Court today imposed a complete ban on the transfer and development of land around shrines of minority communities in the wake of allegations about the illegal sale of a gurdwara's property by a state-run body.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, which was hearing a case regarding the illegal sale of the gurudwara's land by the Evacuee Trust Property Board, ruled there would be a complete ban on transfer of such land as well as development of roads or any development work.

The Chief Justice said all minorities are safeguarded by the Constitution and the law does not allow anyone to take unconstitutional steps.

"The court will decide according to the Constitution of Pakistan. Our Constitution gives protection to all the minorities," he said.

Mastan Singh, president of the Sikh Council of Pakistan, informed the court that 140 plots of one kanal each of a gurdwara at Chuna Mani in Lahore were allegedly sold by the ETPB.

Singh further said some construction work had already begun on the gurdwara's land.

Hamid Khan, the counsel for ETPB, said the property was exchanged and the gurdwara was given a separate piece of land.

But the bench asked Khan to quote the law under which the land was sold by the ETPB.

Khan contended there are certain provisions in the law that give the federal government the right to sell the lands of minorities.

The court sought a response from the Attorney General before adjourning the matter for three weeks.
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