The Peshawar High Court pronounces the issuance of “No Objection Certificates” NOCs for sale of religious places of minorities, illegal. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had previously had introduced a legislation according to which the religious places of minorities could be sold after obtaining an NOC.
Hearing the case, Peshawar High Court’s division bench including Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Younas Thaheem declared Section 4 of the “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Communal Properties of Minorities Act 2014” illegal thus declaring it null and void. The legislation was challenged by Church Property Bachao Tehreek, Pakistan. Peshawar High Court stated that the NOC referred to in sub-section (1), can only be issued by the Government only on the recommendations of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission for Minorities Affairs.
Section 4 stated: “For obtaining No-Objection Certificate, application shall be made to the Secretary to Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Auqaf Department, who shall process the same for obtaining the recommendations of the Commission thereon.”
Advocate Khalild Rehman the petitioner’s lawyer maintained that Section 4 was faulty. He told the court that the definition of the applicant is not laid down clearly, therefore everyone can apply for the NOC to buy the land or properties of minorities and Church. He said that the legislation bestowed provincial government with right to properties of religious minorities. He maintained that this was illegal.
Advocate Khalid argued that his client had previously filed a writ petition, requesting the court to bar the KPK government form issuing “No-Objection Certificate” (NOC) with regard to the properties of the religious minorities.
Khalid Rehman told the court that despite the fact that previously, court had prohibited issuance of NOC from provincial government, yet construction work was still going on in the compound of St John’s Church in Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that this was blatant contempt of court. After hearing this, the court fixed October 26 for hearing of the contempt of the court case.