The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ordered the removal of Siddiqul Farooq as the head of the Evacuee Trust Property Board.
Hearing the Katas Raj suo motu case, a three-member bench had summoned Farooq over his controversial appointment and role in the ETPB, which looks after affairs of minorities’ religious places in the country.
The court, during several earlier hearings of the case, had berated the ETPB chief over his negligence and appointment on nepotism.
Appearing in court, Farooq said he worked at the Pakistan Muslim League-N office where the chief justice would also visit sometimes.
The chief justice then ordered the federal government to remove him from the post and appoint an apolitical person. Hearing the case on Tuesday, the bench had fined Assistant Advocate General Punjab Asma Hamid Rs1,000 and issued a notice to Farooq to appear in person.
The historic Katas Raj pond, a revered site for Hindus, is said to have depleted due to the operations of cement factories nearby which have sucked out the underground water.
During the hearing, the chief justice had also come down hard on Farooq, asking how he could remain on his post when his term has expired. How long will political appointments continue to be made in the country, the chief justice observed further.
The court ruled that Farooq was ineligible to hold the office as a chairman has to use legal powers, adding that the new chairman should be appointed while considering this necessity.
Additional advocate general informed the court that the tenure of ETPB chairman has ended, and that the summary of new chairman will be sent soon.
Responding to the order, Farooq told media outside the apex court that he had presented his entire profile on the orders of CJP. “He remarked that I am not qualified,” he told.
Farooq announced to file a review petition against the order.
The pond, believed to have been created from the teardrops of Shiva and regarded as sacred by the Hindus, is said to be drying out because of large amounts of water being sucked by nearby cement factories which have allegedly drilled hundreds of bores, severely reducing the subsoil water level.
The three-judge bench sought timeline from cement factories situated around Katas Raj Chakwal over an alternate arrangement for water earlier.
The apex court directed factories that after the completion of the timeline, they will not be allowed to take water from tube wells, highlighting the shortage of underground water in the area which was causing difficulty to the residents.