The Lahore High Court (LHC) summoned in person the caretaker prime minister and Punjab chief minister on Wednesday in response to the government’s “non-serious” and “uncooperative” attitude of the federal and provincial governments over a plea challenging the publication of the Holy Quran without the permission of the Quran Board.
“This is not a case for this court or any one [person]but all of us,” remarked LHC’s Justice Shujaat Ali Khan.
Justice Shujaat’s remarks came while hearing a plea seeking the implementation of the court’s earlier orders. Besides Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan has also been summoned by the court on October 16.
Petitioner Hassan Moavia has sought action against those responsible, contending that he went from pillar to post but the concerned quarters have done nothing except acting as silent spectators.
As proceedings commenced, the judge got irked on being told that the federal government had not submitted a report regarding the matter despite repeatedly being directed to. Expressing displeasure over eight months having been passed, Justice Shujaat asked what the officers have been up to during this time.
“This court is left with no option other than to summon the chief executives,” he said.
To this, the federal government’s counsel sought a last opportunity to submit the report. However, the court snubbed the counsel. “It appears that the concerned officials have not placed the matter before the PM,” Justice Shujaat remarked.
During the hearing, Additional Inspector General Police Shehzada Sultan told the court that they have limited powers. At this, Justice Shujaat responded that, “Everyone knows how much you people act upon your powers.”
At the last hearing, the petitioner had sought the implementation on certain directions of the court in an earlier judgment passed over a petition, restraining the Ahmaddiya community from allegedly publishing the Holy Quran against its original text and translation, and using the names of Muslim authors.
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Petitioner Hassan Moavia had claimed the Ahmaddiya community was sending the copies of the altered Holy Quran abroad.
The court had issued 18 directions to the authority concerned. The court observed that, “The federal as well as the provincial government shall ensure availability of a standard copy of Holy Qur’an along-with its literal meaning, at Federal, Provincial, District and Tehsil levels, duly approved by the respective Qur’an Boards to use it as a specimen to determine as to whether any subsequent publication qualifies the test of authenticity of original text of Holy Quran and its literal meaning or not.”
It further maintained that, “The Federal as well as Provincial government shall take steps to ensure that only the printers/publishers, authorized by the Qur’an Board, are allowed to print Holy Qur’an and other religious books of the Muslims. Further, the authorized printers/publishers be bound down to give specific Bar/QR code as well as distinct serial number against each copy of every religious book, in particular the Holy Qur’an, to know the authenticity of the said book and to fix responsibility in case of any omission/commission on the part of any publisher/printer. Furthermore, each page of the Holy Qur’an be embossed with name of the publisher/company in order to eliminate the possibility of replacement of any page at subsequent stage.
“In view of the ever-increasing importance of the Information Technology, the Federal Government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, in particular the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shall take measures that the search engines/websites showing proscribed religious material are blocked. Further, only the websites which are registered with the PTA and possess certificate from the Qur’an Board regarding authenticity of the religious material, in particular the Holy Qur’an, be allowed to display online Holy Qur’an and other religious books of the Muslims. Moreover, all other unregistered websites, displaying such religious material against its original text and literal meaning, be blocked forthwith. For the purpose, the Federal as well as the Provincial Government shall display at conspicuous places, in particular the web portals owned and operated by the government, the registered/approved websites for information of the public-at-large.
“The Federal Government shall ensure that the e-copy of Holy Qur’an, duly approved by the Qur’an Board, is available at Google Play Store, App Store and Windows Store etc. for reference. Further, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should take up the matter with the managers/owners/operators of the application stores to remove every application containing unauthentic text of the Holy Qur’an and other religious books of Muslims.
“Every printer/publisher be bound down to put a certificate at the end of each copy of Holy Qur’an to the effect that the same is 100% compliant with the copy approved by the Qur’an Board. Moreover, the contact numbers (telephone, e-mail id & Facebook id etc.) of the Qur’an Board should be available on each and every copy of the Holy Qur’an to facilitate the reader to highlight any issue relating to printing and publication of religious material of Muslims in particular the Holy Qur’an.”