Islamic Court Rules in Favor of Christian Petition

Nov 14, 2002 03:00 AM EST

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A full bench of the Pakistan's Islamic Court System - Federal Shariat Court Monday issued pre-admission notice to the federation and Election Commission of Pakistan on J. Salik's petition challenging election law by which the nominees of the political parties occupy the reserved minorities seats in the parliament and provincial assemblies.

The bench comprised Chief Justice Fazal Elahi Khan, Allama Justice Fida Mohammad Khan and Justice Ijaz Yusuf.

Petitioner's counsel Dr. M. Aslam Khaki referred to the verses of the Holy Quran, which ordained equality before law and contended that while the Muslims elected their own representatives, the Non-Muslims minorities have been left at the mercy of the political parties.

This is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a Christian has knocked at the door of Shariat Court to examine the electoral procedure recently laid down for the minorities on the touchstone of Islam/Shariah.

Briefly addressing the court personally J. Salik said he had begged justice from the Shariat Court after having withdrawn his petition from the Supreme Court.

Salik said he had been elected five times as independent candidate to represent the Christians. It was in the interest of the national solidarity that the minorities should have been kept out of partisan bias and prejudices.

Salik said this was the first time that a democratic institution like the parliament and the provincial legislature seats were filled through methods contrary to democracy. There was no election. There were no ballot papers, and no votes were cast.

The will of the minorities was in no way ascertained.

The court broadly agreed with the petitioner's contention, but queried whether the impugned election laws 2002 were the constitutional provision or a law subservient to it.

It also inquired whether any specific injunction of Islam had been infringed to decide whether the Federal Shariat Court had the jurisdiction to hear the petition.

Dr. Khaki contended that the provisions were against Islam as the Holy Quran says, "Allah ordains you to hand over the trust to its eligible people" and that "The enmity of a nation may not lead you to do injustice with them." He argued that in this case the minorities have the right to hand over their trust/vote to the persons of their choice.

To a question by the court whether there was any specific verse of the Holy Quran to which the impugned election law 2002 was repugnant, Dr. Khaki replied that the same was provided by finding the cause/Illat in the law.

He said as there was no text of the law on prohibition of heroin, but it was prohibited because of the common quality of intoxication between heroin and wine. The court issued pre-admission notice to the respondents.

By Albert H. Lee
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