A Supreme Court of Pakistan bench on Tuesday denied bail to the publisher of Al-Fazl, a 102-year-old Ahmadiyya publication, who is behind bars for three years on blasphemy and terrorism charges.
The bench headed by Justice Sardar Asif Saeed Khosa directed the prosecution to submit a challan in the matter in the trial court without further delay.
Justice Khosa observed that unfortunately when matters pertaining to religion were under consideration one had to ignore the law.
Earlier, petitioner Tahir Mehdi’s counsel Abid Hassan Manto submitted that his client had not been involved in publishing of any objectionable material after the issuance of a government notification on the matter. He said there was no justification for inclusion of blasphemy and terrorism charges in the FIR. He said the petitioner had been in prison for two years and eight months but the police had yet to submit the case’s challan in the trial court. An additional prosecutor said the material recovered from the petitioner was highly provocative. He said if the petitioner was released on bail he would continue publishing hate material. This would fuel conflict in the society, he said.
Millat Park police had arrested the petitioner near an anti-terrorism court where he arrived to attend the hearing of his bail application in a different blasphemy case. Complainant Hafiz Nasir had stated that his religious feelings were outraged by finding out about the publication. An FIR registered in the matter on April 10, 2013, had nominated six people besides the publisher. Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya spokesperson Saleemuddin said the publication had catered only to Ahmedis. He said this was cleary stated in a disclaimer printed on the front page of all editions.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2015.