An additional district and sessions judge has framed charges against four printing press employees under the blasphemy laws for allegedly publishing blasphemous literature and summoned witnesses for September 14.
Moeed Ayaz, Asmatullah, Razaullah and Ghulamullah, who work as printers, binders and laminators at Black Arrow Printing Press, were arrested on January 7 as they loaded a small truck with books and CDs. They are to stand trial under Sections 295-B (desecration of the Holy Quran) and 298-C (which prohibits Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The owner of the printing press is at large. The Lahore High Court had earlier granted the four men bail after Additional District and Sessions Judge Shaukat Nadeem had rejected their post-arrest bail pleas.
They argued in their bail application that police took action against them on the basis of a call to Police 15 in the absence of an FIR, which was a violation of procedure. They also argued that the Sections 295-B and 298-C of the PPC did not apply to the alleged offence.
If the complainant was right, they said, they could only be tried for violating sections of the Punjab Holy Quran (Printing and Recording) Act of 2011, under which the maximum punishment they could get was three years.
According to the complainant, Muhammad Tayyab, the accused had attempted to distribute blasphemous literature.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2013.