LHC upholds death for blasphemy accused

Published: September 30, 2010

LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday confirmed the death sentence handed down to a blasphemy convict and ordered that he be hanged till death.

This is the second case of its kind in the country when the death sentence of a blasphemy accused has been confirmed by the LHC since inception of the blasphemy law.

An Additional District and Sessions Judge Lahore on May 27, 2002 had awarded Wajihul Hassan death sentence for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other prophets. He was also accused of hurting religious sentiments of the complainant – Senior Advocate Muhammad Ismail Qureshi.

Allam Iqbal Town Police registered an FIR against Hassan under sections 295-C (use of derogatory remarks in respect of Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), 295-A (malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 298-A (use of derogatory remarks in respect of holy personages).

The session judge had awarded him death sentence and Rs0.2 million fine under section 295-C, 10 years’ imprisonment and Rs50,000 fine under section 295-A and two years’ imprisonment and Rs20,000 fine under section 298-A.

According to the complainant – Advocate Muhammad Ismail Qureshi – who had got Ahmadis declared non-Muslims by the Supreme Court, some unknown persons had been wiring him frequent letters carrying blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and other prophets.

In the FIR he alleged that although the letters did not contain names of the senders, he was sure that Wajihul Hassan was behind these letters. He alleged that Wajihul Hassan was a Muslim but later converted to Christianity and was using derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh). The complainant could not produce any of these letters before the police and mentioned in the FIR that he had burnt all the six letters.

During the course of investigation, however, he handed over seven such letters to the authorities attributing them to accused Hassan. He also said that Nawaz Butt and Hassan are names of the same person.

During the trial, the complainant produced 10 prosecution witnesses to buttress his case against the accused. The witnesses said they had seen Hassan uttering blasphemous remarks.

Counsel for Hassan, Advocate Parvaiz Aslam Chaudhry, strongly rejected the prosecution story, saying that on the basis of extra-judicial confession of witnesses before the trial court, an accused could not be awarded death sentence.

He told The Express Tribune that in his statement under section 342 of CrPC his client had denied uttering any blasphemous remarks. He quoted Hassan as saying that he was a Muslim and believed in the last Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and never dared to utter or write any blasphemous remarks.

He said by birth he is a Muslim and never converted to Christianity. He said the complainant deliberately named him as Murshad Masih to strengthen his stance but it was not his name. They intend to file an appeal against the LHC order before the Supreme Court.

Advocate Chaudhry claimed that the motive behind registration of FIR was that complainant Qureshi had a grudge against former Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson Asma Jahangir.

Hassan and his father Safdar Hussain were employees at the office of Asma, he claimed, adding that Qureshi tried to use Hassan against Asma but over his refusal he implicated him in the case.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairman told The Express Tribune that the commission was against the capital punishment at first place, adding that blasphemy laws have long been misused in Pakistan.

He said, “Blasphemy laws have always been controversial. People have been using them to penalise their opponents and minorities. HRCP and other organisations have long been demanding that the blasphemy law should be repealed”.

He said that this government was considering abolishing capital punishment but hasn’t implemented it yet.

Asma Jahangir denied having any link with accused Hassan. She said he never had been her employee.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2010.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (11)

  • Joel B
    Oct 1, 2010 - 11:46PM

    “Blasphemy laws have always been controversial” Well, that’s the understatement of the year! Blasphemy laws are throwbacks to a primitive culture, and have no place in modern societies. It is impossible to cause physical harm to anyone with mere words, much less to a long dead “prophet” (if he ever was one). And since these laws are based solely on words uttered, and the islamic government is inclined to believe the accuser, it is used as an excuse to purge Pakistani society of “non believers”. Recommend

  • Rob Macmanus
    Oct 2, 2010 - 8:46AM

    He was ‘awarded’ the death penalty! An interesting use of language and it would certainly make one cautious about stepping forward to receive any award in Lahore. You would think that Pakistan has more pressing problems than this man’s utterances but I guess it is this fixation with the utterly unbelievable that has led to its present condition .Recommend

  • Farlowe
    Oct 2, 2010 - 2:27PM

    Blasphemy is a victimless crime. Recommend

  • Oct 2, 2010 - 3:01PM

    These judges should be tried by the international human rights courts and sentenced to death.Recommend

  • Bilal
    Oct 2, 2010 - 9:59PM

    I do not recall a single death that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH himself ordered on such convictions, people trashed him, threw stones on him, and accused him of any thing they could think of, nothing at all was done against them, how is this law then considered “islamic”? clearly the judge handed down the sentence according to the pakistani law, not the islamic law. Recommend

  • Oct 2, 2010 - 11:00PM

    Bilal, I am sure that you know nothing about mohammad, islam and it’s history other than what your mulla has told you; here is a good article for you:
    But do not be afraid if your brain starts to explode, just drink some cold water and finish reading the article.Recommend

  • Ali
    Oct 3, 2010 - 4:17PM

    Looks like nobody has the pair to repeal these laws, so that minorities are not targeted in future?Recommend

  • Maq
    Oct 3, 2010 - 7:30PM

    Every body who is non muslim, consider muhammad not prophet.
    In other words non muslims consider that he did false claim.
    It becomes blasphemy. Does it mean then all non muslims
    Should be awarded death penalty?Recommend

  • faraz
    Oct 5, 2010 - 10:15PM

    Blasphemy law is among the most sickening things I’ve seen in my life…and I’ve seen quite a few!
    Aside from the clear lack of evidence pertaining to the case, it disgusts me how foreign and outlandish the concept of free speech is to most Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Sarang
    Oct 9, 2010 - 4:57AM

    Sick sick.. Utterly sick… Sickest law ever concieved…Recommend

  • basharat
    Nov 14, 2010 - 5:11PM

    Many innocent people , accused of blasphemy , have been killed in police custody, in jails or while they were on bail. Rashid Masih and Sajid Masih , accused under section 295c were killed while they were in police custody. Punjab Law Minister asserted that adequate security was provided to the accused persons . There inhuman murder of accused persons proves the adequacy of the security . A mentally Disordered woman was acquitted by high court after fourteen years , throughout the period the poor lady remained in prison. This law must be repealed without and delay.Recommend

More in Pakistan