The Lahore High Court acquitted a Christian couple of blasphemy charges on Thursday, overturning the life terms awarded to them by a trial court in Kasur.
Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi accepted the couple’s appeal against the conviction as the prosecution failed to prove the allegations against the accused couple.
Mustafabad police of Kasur district had registered a case against Munir Masih, 32, and his wife, Ruqayya Bibi ,under sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code on December 8, 2008.
Complainant Muhammad Nawaz had accused them of disgracing the Holy Quran and insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
In the FIR, Nawaz accused Ruqayya of using the Holy Quran for exorcism. He accused her of touching the Holy Quran without ablution, and said that her husband was equally responsible for he remained a silent spectator.
He also claimed that the couple has insulted the Holy Prophet (PBUH). In 2010, the trial court exonerated them from the charges under section 295-C [blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH)]. However, since the allegations under this section could not be proven during the trial the couple was awarded life imprisonment under section 295-B (defiling of the Holy Quran).
The couple filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court through their counsel Ch Naeem Shakir and pleaded not guilty.
During the trial, not a single witness spoke against the couple regarding the allegations of blasphemy; therefore, the trial court on March 2, 2010 acquitted the couple in 295-C PPC but awarded them life imprisonment under section 295-B.
During the course of hearings, Advocate Shakir, counsel for the appellants, submitted that one Muhammad Yousaf, along with his brother Muhammad Ilyas, implicated the couple through their driver Muhammad Nawaz, who lodged an FIR against the couple.
Shakir said the motive behind this move was a fight between the children of the Christian couple and Yousaf’s family.
He also pointed out discrepancies in the FIR, making them mere allegations.
The prosecutor argued that no one could touch the Holy Quran without ablution. Justice Naqvi, however, responded by saying that no one bothers to do that before reading the Holy Quran or the Bible in libraries around the world. He added that non-Muslims can embrace Islam after reading the Holy Quran.
While Munir was out on bail, his wife has been languishing in Sahiwal Jail. Shakir said that on Saturday they would be able to get a certified copy of the court order and Ruqqaya would be released by Monday. The couple has four daughters and two sons.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.