SC directs Federal Govt to hand over Katas Raj Temple to ETPB

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Federal Government to take over the control of Katas Raj Temple from Punjab government and hand it over to the Evacuee Trust Properties Board (ETPB) within two weeks.

A three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed heard the suo moto notice case regarding the rights of minorities.

During the course of proceedings, the court expressed annoyance over non-appearance of the Chief Secretary Punjab, observing that its order had also not been implemented.

The Secretary Implementation Punjab replied that the chief secretary was busy due to the cabinet meeting.

The CJP observed that the duty of the chief secretary was to ensure implementation of the court orders.

The court sought the report regarding restoration of Parlab Temple Multan within two weeks.

Minorities leader Ramesh Kumar informed the court that an amount of Rs 38 million had been spent on the Samadhi before the Karak incident and the ETPB had not paid the expenditures.

The court asked Ramesh Kumar to submit details of the expenditure incurred on Samadhi.

Advocate Kamran Murtaza, counsel for the accused, said the proceedings of criminal cases were not continuing due to the suo moto notice and the trial courts were not granting bails to more than 100 people arrested in the case.

The CJP observed that the SC had directed the trial court to proceed under the law and asked whether any recovery had been made from the accused of the Karak incident.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan directed to make recoveries from the attackers, who were shown in the videos of attack.

The Advocate General KP said the amount of damages was being calculated and notices would also be issued to the accused. Faisal Chaudhry, Additional Advocate General Punjab, said the walls of Parlab Temple were weak and there was danger of its collapse.

The chief justice remarked that the court had already issued order to provide security to the temple and asked whether the Punjab government was providing security for the Holi festival.

The Additional Advocate General Punjab requested the court to allow the reconstruction of the walls of historic temple. The Parlab Temple and the shrine of Bahauddin Zakariya was adjacent, he added. He said it was directed to celebrate the festival on March 26 whereas the opposition had announced a long march on March 26 and due to political environment, the provision of security would be difficult as the Punjab government had to look all the aspects of security.