LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday acquitted a Christian couple implicated in a blasphemy case, setting aside an order of a trial court of Kasur, where they had been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, issuing a verbal order, accepted the couple’s appeal against conviction, as the prosecution could not prove allegations against the accused couple.
Mustafabad police of district Kasur had registered a case against Munir Masih (32) and his wife Ruqqaya Bibi under sections 295-B and 295-C of PPC on December 8, 2008.
A trial court had exonerated them from charges in 2010 under section 295-C (use of derogatory remarks, etc; against the Holy Prophet (PBUH)). The Court ruled that allegations against them under 295-C could not be proved during their trial. However, they were awarded life imprisonment on charges filed under section 295-B (defiling of the Holy Quran).
The convicts had filed an appeal in the LHC through their counsel Chaudhry Naeem Shakir and pleaded not guilty.
In the FIR, complainant Mohammad Nawaz had accused Ruqayya of performing exorcisms and using the Holy Quran for the purpose, adding that she touched the holy book without performing ablution which was akin to insulting the Quran.
He said her husband Munir Masih sat outside the room where she defiled the Quran, therefore is equally responsible for defiling the holy book, he alleged. He also raised allegations of blasphemy of the holy prophet (PBUH) by saying in one sentence that they “also insult the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.
He said that the husband is also an blasphemer, since he used to guard the room where his wife committed the alleged crime.
However during the trial, not a single witness mentioned anything regarding the couple making blasphemous statements against the Holy Prophet (PBUH), therefore the court acquitted them of 295-C, and awarded them life imprisonment under 295-B.
During the course of the hearing, Advocate Shakir, counsel for the defendants, submitted that Mohammad Yousaf and his brother Mohammad Ilyas implicated the couple through their driver Mohammad Nawaz, who had lodged the FIR against the couple.
Providing background for the case, Shakir said the plausible motive for filing the case was a fight between the children of the Christian couple and Yousaf’s family, adding that Yousaf’s family had also thrashed Ruqqaya. A few days after the incident, they lodged an FIR against the couple.
Shakir pointed towards discrepancies in the FIR and statements of the witnesses, that while the FIR claimed Ruqqaya used to touch the Holy Quran without ablution, the witnesses said she used to spread her hair over an open copy of the Holy Quran.
He said that such discrepancies raised the possibility that Nawaz’s claims were just baseless allegations.
During the hearing, when the prosecutor tried to prove allegations against the couple, he argued that no one can touch the Holy Quran without ablution. However, Justice Naqvi noted that since no one bothered performing ablutions before reading the Holy Quran or Bible in libraries all over the world, and the fact that some non-Muslims had even embraced Islam after reading the Holy Quran.
Munir is currently out on bail, while Ruqayya is imprisoned at Sahiwal Jail. Shakir said that on Saturday they would be able to get a certified copy of the court order and hopefully by Monday Ruqayya would be released from jail.
The couple have four daughters and two sons.
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