Blasphemy and punishment: SC has ‘limited powers’ to interpret Islamic laws

Published: December 22, 2015
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Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. PHOTO: FILE

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has observed that it has limited jurisdiction when it comes to interpreting the injunctions of Islam on the issue of blasphemy and its punishment.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, on December 14 rejected the review petition against the death sentence of former elite force guard Mumtaz Qadri for killing former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

Penalties proposed for false accusers of blasphemy

While authoring a six-page order in the matter, Justice Asif Khosa pointed out several times that the petitioner has failed to prove through any legally admissible  evidence that the victim namely Salman Taseer had committed blasphemy within the meanings of section 295-C PPC.

Justice Khosa said “no error patent on the face of the record has been pointed out by the counsel for petitioner [Qadri] qua such findings of this court.”

The order reads: “In view of the provisions of Articles 203G and 230 of the Constitution, the matter of interpretation of the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah falls within the exclusive domain and jurisdiction of the Federal Shariat Court, Shariat Appellate Bench, and the Council of Islamic Ideology with reference to an existing and proposed law and essentially.”

Stressing harmony: ‘Blasphemy laws are to protect the innocent’

It also pointed out that the court’s [SC] jurisdiction in such matters is limited to application of principles where they are settled, adding that but it is obvious that the same also applied to the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The high court, while issuing its ruling in the same matter, had discussed Islamic provisions.

But while issuing the judgment under review, the top court said it had refrained from interpreting he injunctions of Islam on blasphemy and its punishment, therefore, the same was also expected of the IHC.

In view of the matter, the observation made by IHC in the paragraph No 28, 29 and 30 of judgment passed in this case could be treated as Obiter dicta. Obiter Dicta mean a judge’s expression of opinion uttered in a court or in a written judgment, but not essential to the decision and therefore not legally binding as a precedent.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2015.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Afzaal Ansari
    Dec 22, 2015 - 9:57AM

    good and scrupulous decision Recommend

  • facts
    Dec 22, 2015 - 11:10AM

    The Blasphemy Law is a MAN MADE LAW Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Dec 22, 2015 - 2:19PM

    For the Abyss-dweller “Doubt” is blasphemy, whereas the modern day heretic Science begins with doubt, logical examining and reasoning.Recommend

  • Dec 22, 2015 - 2:38PM

    Definitely, ACCORDING TO CONSTITUTION, interpretation of Islamic laws falls within jurisdiction of Federal Sharia Court (FSC), but in whose jurisdiction does it falls ACCORDING TO SHARIA. First the supreme court should settle the matter regarding authority who has final say regarding Islamic laws according to sharia.Recommend

  • Disgusting
    Dec 22, 2015 - 3:07PM

    @goggi (Lahore):
    Comment from an educated modern science heretic but absolutely uneducated in Islamic teachings and jurisprudence. Pathetic is the word for this heretic.Recommend

  • zubair
    Dec 22, 2015 - 4:33PM

    Critizing blapshemy laws is NOT blasphemy. This murderer deserves death punishment and should not exploit Islam to threaten judges.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Dec 22, 2015 - 7:08PM

    “……Justice Asif Khosa pointed out several times that the petitioner has failed to prove through any legally admissible evidence that the victim namely Salman Taseer had committed blasphemy within the meanings of section 295-C PPC.”

    Looks like the late Mr. Salman Taseer and not his killer Mumtaz Qadri was on trial.

    So what if Salman Taseer had committed blasphemy?

    The message Justice Khosa is conveying is that if Salman Taseer had committed blasphemy, Mumtaz Qadri had the right to kill Salman Taseer and was correct in killing Salman Taseer. Recommend

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