SC takes up Jaranwala inquiry plea today


An apex court bench—led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJ) Qazi Faez Isa—is scheduled to hear today a constitution petition seeking an inquiry into the August 2023 communal riots at Jaranwala tehsil of Punjab’s Faisalabad district.

The petition, filed by members of Christian community through Faisal Siddiqi advocate, contended that violent attacks on Christian community at Jaranwala on August 16, 2023 were unprecedented in terms of the large scale of destruction of churches and worship places.

“Never in the history of Pakistan have so many churches/worship places been destroyed in a single incident in a single day. At least 24 churches and several dozen smaller chapels were burnt, thus, the present petition is of great public importance and is maintainable,” it said.

The petition said it is a matter of great public importance with reference to the enforcement of the fundamental rights of minorities conferred upon them by the Constitution, 1973. The fundamental rights of minorities will be in jeopardy unless true facts about the violent attacks of 16.08.2023, are discovered.

The petition urged the court to ascertain the facts of the incident that occurred on August 16, 2023; to ascertain the quantum and extent of damages caused by the violent attacks and to ascertain as to what extent compensations have been paid and damages to property have been restored.

“[There is also a need to] ascertain the causes of this incident of destruction of the churches and property of minorities as well as assign responsibilities to the miscreants.

“[There is also a need to] investigate and ascertain the extent of negligence on part of the state institutions in failing to prevent the said horrific incident of 16.08.2023.”

Read also: Foreign journalists visit churches restored in Jaranwala after mob attack

The petitioners requested the Supreme Court to direct an already existing one-man commission, led by Dr Shoaib Suddle, to conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident and submit a report.

This one-man commission was appointed by the Supreme Court on January 1, 2019 in the suo motu case No 1 of 2014, related to minority rights.

The petition lamented that the directions issued by the Supreme Court vide order dated June 19, 2014 in the suo motu case No 1 of 2014, are yet to be implemented.

“The negligence on part of federal and provincial governments in delaying the implementation of the said directions has brought forth this catastrophe upon the members of Christian community of Pakistan.

“This Honourable Court under Para 37 (iii), (v) and (vii) of the Order dated: 19.06.2014, gave directions, inter alia, to curb the hate speeches in social media, to create Special Police Force to protect the places of worship of minorities and to take prompt actions in cases of violations of fundamental rights of the minority including desecration of places of worship.

“It is most respectfully and most humbly submitted that a major reason for the occurrence of the violent attacks of 16.08.2023, is non-implementation of the aforementioned directions,” it added.

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