The court of the additional sessions judge in Islamabad on Monday gave a final warning to the investigation officer (IO) in the blasphemy case involving Rimsha Masih and directed the superintendent of police (SP) to submit a charge-sheet on September 21.
Civil Judge Muhammad Amir Aziz was irked over the inordinate delay in the presentation of the charge-sheet by IO Munir Jaffri. The court directed the SP to submit it at its next date of hearing.
During the hearing, Jaffri again requested the court to give more time. He claimed that a joint investigation team was constituted and headed by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). However, Rao Abdur Rahim, the counsel for Rimsha’s neighbour Hammad Malik, who filed the original complaint against her, requested the court to cancel Rimsha’s bail. “If a prime minister appears before the apex court when he is summoned, why did a girl accused of committing blasphemy not appear?” he questioned.
Rahim told the court that despite passage of over 30 days, the IO did not submit the charge-sheet. He argued that according to the Police Act, the police was bound to complete a charge-sheet in 14 days and submit a challan in 17 days. However, the police had thus far not submitted the charge-sheet and requested the court to cancel her bail. The court did not accept his plea.
He also alleged that his client was being harassed by the IG of Islamabad Police. “My client was summoned at the police station and harassed to change his statement,’’ Rahim alleged. He requested the court to restrain the police from harassing his client again. It then directed the police to refrain from such activities.
Earlier on September 7, the court had granted bail to Rimsha against two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each. She was then transported by a helicopter to an undisclosed location after her release from jail.
She was arrested on August 16 from a poor Islamabad suburb for allegedly burning papers containing verses from the Holy Quran, in breach of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.