SC dismisses plea against acquitted man in blasphemy case

LHC had earlier acquitted the accused due to lack of evidence in 2017

Hasnaat Mailk February 22, 2018
Supreme Court of Pakistan PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea against the 2017 acquittal of an accused in a blasphemy case.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took up a plea against the Lahore High Court (LHC) order to acquit accused Malik Ishaq.

Ishaq was arrested in 2009 and was awarded a death sentence in 2011 by a trial court on charges of blasphemy under sections 295 A and C. However, the LHC acquitted him due to lack of evidence in 2017.

Later, the complainant Asadullah challenged the accused’s acquittal in the apex court.

The bench on Thursday found irregularities in the investigation. They further said that a video of the accused was recorded at Malik Saleem Iqbal’s house, but Iqbal did not appear as a witness in the case.

FIR for blasphemy registered against Christian teenager in Shahdara

The top court also noted that blasphemy cases should be investigated by a superintendent of police (SP) level officer under Section 196 of CrPc. Gulam Mustafa appeared on behalf of the complainant.

The bench thus maintained the LHC order and dismissed the petition. The incident took place in Chakwal’s Talagang tehsil and the accused remained in jail for eight years.

Last week, the same bench granted a reprieve to a woman on death row for the last eight years, converting her sentence into life imprisonment.

In 2010, Nazia Anwar was accused of fatally stabbing her friend over the repayment of Rs5,000 loan. She was convicted by a trial court under Section 302(b) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and sentenced to death and a heavy compensation.

Allegedly, Nazia had caused multiple injuries to her friend Fahmeeda Bibi on October 12, 2010, following a heated argument over the repayment of the loan at the deceased’s home in the jurisdiction of Rawalpindi’s Saddar Bairooni Police Station.

Six years later, Nazia’s appeal against the death penalty was dismissed by the Lahore High Court on April 21, 2016 – the high court upheld trial court’s decision.

Misuse of blasphemy law

Undeterred, Nazia then appealed to the SC where a three-member bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising of Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah converted her death sentence into life imprisonment by a majority of two against one.

Justice Dost Mohammad did not affirm with the majority as he voted in favour of her acquittal.

The SC order, issued in the second week of February, reads that the motive behind murder as asserted by the prosecution remained unproven. “The law is settled that if the prosecution asserts a motive but fails to prove it, then such failure on the part of prosecution may react against a sentence of death passed against a convict on the charge of murder.”

The judgement, authored by Justice Khosa, reads that a thorough inspection of the entire record of the case had proved beyond doubt that Nazia was responsible for the murder, but the story of prosecution had many inherent obscurities ingrained therein.

“It is intriguing as to why appellant [Nazia] would bring her four-month-old child to the spot, place him on the floor and attack the deceased with a dagger in order to kill her,” the court order states. “I have thus entertained no manner of doubt that real cause of occurrence was something different which had been completely suppressed by both parties to the case and the real cause remained shrouded in mystery.”


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