SC orders govt to appoint ETPB chairperson from minority community


–CJP observes MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani be named ETPB chief 


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday issued orders to appoint a member from the minority Hindu community as chairperson of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

A bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu case about Thar Coal Power Plant.

In his remarks during the hearing, the chief justice questioned for how long the ETPB has been working without a regular chairman.

The trust, which manages religious properties and shrines of Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India following the partition, has been without a chairman since Siddiqul Farooq, appointed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was disqualified by the top court and dismissed in January this year.

Observing that minority Member National Assembly (MNA) Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani should be named the ETPB chairman, the chief justice directed the additional attorney general to get approval for the appointment of ETPB chairman from the federal cabinet.

The chairperson should be from the minority community, the top judge ordered.

A meeting of the federal cabinet, being held in Islamabad on Thursday, is expected to give the green signal for appointment of heads of state institutions.

Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has also proposed Vankwani as the new chairman of ETPB.

A controversy regarding the appointment of a Hindu chairman of ETPB had previously erupted where the Sikhs expressed reservations and wrote a letter to the prime minister that they would not accept a Hindu as the ETPB chief. The Sikh community of Pakistan wrote that around 90 per cent of the income ETPB generated was because of the Gurdawara lands that belonged to the Sikhs whereas they mentioned that the board generated income through the pilgrimage of the Sikhs to their holy sites in the country.

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President Tara Singh said that the Sikh community did not have any grievances with the Hindus but they were more in population and their holy sites were here in Pakistan, therefore, the chairman should be from the Sikh community.