Proven Innocent: IHC exonerates Rimsha Masih of blasphemy

Published: November 21, 2012

IHC Chief Justice Rehman on Tuesday quashed a FIR against Rimsha and gave a detailed 15-page judgment declaring the girl innocent. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has dismissed all charges of blasphemy against a minor Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, and declared her innocent of any wrongdoing.

IHC Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman on Tuesday quashed a First Information Report (FIR) against Rimsha and gave a detailed 15-page judgment declaring the girl innocent. “Being Muslims, we should be extraordinarily careful while levelling such allegations against each other and non-Muslim communities too,” he observed.

Hearing the petition filed by Rimsha seeking cancellation of an FIR against her, the chief justice observed that a prudent man in society would never bother to inquire from anyone – specially a minor girl – what she was carrying in a polythene bag or what she intended to do with it. “Therefore it manifests that the complainant had some ulterior motive to manoeuvre the expulsion of the Christian community from the vicinity. Therefore the mala fide on part of the complainant is apparent from the facts and circumstances of the case,” he stated.

Reports surfaced that a cleric in Islamabad’s suburb of Mehrabadi had tampered with the evidence and implicated the minor girl in a blasphemy case to compel dozens of Christian families out of the village.

Rimsha’s lawyer Akmal Bhatti told reporters after the proceedings that the court had quashed the case and declared his client “innocent”.

Rimsha, believed to be no older than 14, was accused of burning pages from a noorani qaida (elementary religious book with verses of the Holy Quran) — a move that led to global condemnation and concerns about the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan.

IHC Chief Justice Rehman stated in the verdict that on one hand the complainant in the FIR said that the accused carried a polythene bag containing verses of the Holy Quran but he failed to explain how he had suspected it when the verses were not visible from the bag.

He also observed that there was an inclusion of two pages of the Holy Quran which were not recovered in the beginning when the complainant had handed over the envelope right after the incident.

“The alleged occurrence clearly proves a material contradiction and hiatus in the prosecution story at the initial stage.”

The court observed that no one had seen Rimsha set the verses on fire and in view of the same it cannot be said that she has committed the offence under the blasphemy law.

The court also cited that as per the statement of witness Hafiz Malik Muhammad Zubair, the central figure of the case, Muhammad Khalid Jadoon Chishti, had tampered with the evidence to implicate Rimsha.

“It cannot be said that the accused committed the offence since during the investigation it was known that she was unaware of religious feelings of Islam and Christianity,” the chief justice said.

The court added that Rimsha was juvenile and uneducated and her mental age was below her chronological age — reportedly the Christian girl has the Down Syndrome.

Rimsha was arrested under the blasphemy laws from the outskirts of Islamabad on August 16 after a mob of angry residents gathered at the Ramna Police Station and accused her of burning pages of the Holy Quran. The charges against Rimsha led to the exodus of dozens of Christian families from the neighbourhood after cleric Chishti, the imam of a mosque, allegedly issued a decree on his mosque’s loudspeaker to burn Christians of the Mehrabadi village alive.

Rimsha was detained for three weeks in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and was granted bail on September 6. The detention led to global condemnation and concerns by rights organisations.

In Washington, the United States welcomed the dropping of charges against Rimsha Masih. “With regards to dismissal of charges against Rimsha Masih, we are pleased to see those charges dismissed,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR CORRESPONDENT IN WASHINGTON)

(Read: Justice served)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • SK5
    Nov 21, 2012 - 4:30AM

    Good work by the Pakistani courts, justice has been served.

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  • Cautious
    Nov 21, 2012 - 5:40AM

    Proven innocent? In most Democracies your assumed innocent until proven guilty. This child was always innocent – tossed in jail – given an outrageous bail – and whisked away to protect her from religious zealots who wanted to burn her alive. Her accuser turned out to have planted evidence and you still dragged your feet for weeks before acknowledging her innocence. Shame on you.

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  • jugno
    Nov 21, 2012 - 6:45AM

    @SK5:
    Justice served only under international pressure. In pak if one is accused its like he/she is sentenced for life. Can she safely live like a free person?

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  • Usman Syed
    Nov 21, 2012 - 7:20AM

    Great decision. Justice served at last. One hopes that the person laying false charges will beheld accountable and made an example for all those preaching hatred and violence.

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  • Usman Syed
    Nov 21, 2012 - 7:23AM

    Heartening indeed. We need more positive news coming out of Pakistan on a consistent basis to improve the badly damaged image of the country. All credit to the court for delivering a fair verdict.

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  • Hairaan
    Nov 21, 2012 - 7:51AM

    Liberals now please campaign to get her Nobel Peace award.

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  • Just Saying
    Nov 21, 2012 - 10:09AM

    @Cautious:
    Tell that to the drone victims. Double Standards?

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  • noman sohail
    Nov 21, 2012 - 4:16PM

    thank god we finally have justice in Pakistan!!! keep it up govt.

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  • noman sohail
    Nov 21, 2012 - 5:01PM

    Thing is that a girl which is below 18 is not quite mature and her mind is not well polished so the decision that she makes or the act that she performed was not her fault..she was too young to take any decision and before catching others mistake first of all the government should do pure inspection that whether it is true or not. The government and Islam tell us that there is no rule that a bail for a girl is not acceptable.and secondly the girl was under 18 so how can the government declare her a prison. no case can be registered for an immature girl…so the girl was proved innocent because she didn’t committed any mistake and being a citizen of pakistan it was her right to gain justice.

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  • saba
    Nov 21, 2012 - 5:05PM

    at least there are some cases in which govt does the justice but what for others who are still neglected

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  • mak
    Nov 22, 2012 - 7:16AM

    giving comments is easy but doing justice is very much difficult task,salute to HCJ IHC Mr justice Iqbal Hameed ur rehman and his team for such a couragious decision,its a ray of hope which must be wellcomed.

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  • aqsa
    Nov 23, 2012 - 1:54AM

    a better decision made which not only saved the young girl Rimsha from injustis but also created a better point of view about pakistans court for those who take every action of the government in a negative way .

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  • Saad Sikandar Khan
    Nov 25, 2012 - 10:22AM

    Rimsha Masih is now a hope for all the existing ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan that justice can still be found at the doors of courtroom. This hope was lost at the hands of extremist who had assassinated two ministers of Pakistan and countless bomb blast targeted at Shia Mosque and Sacred Christian Churches. Having said that, one thing that saddens me is the fact that cases like Rimsha Masih maybe happening in any rural areas of Pakistan more than we can tell and justice is not being served there. Having that in mind, our media and government should shift their focus to less developed cities in Pakistan.

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