Setting a precedent: State becomes plaintiff in slain couple’s case

Published: November 8, 2014
"For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the state will be the plaintiff in a case involving murder due to alleged blasphemy," Ports and Shipping Minister Kamran Michael. PHOTO: PPI

"For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the state will be the plaintiff in a case involving murder due to alleged blasphemy," Ports and Shipping Minister Kamran Michael. PHOTO: PPI


Ports and Shipping Minister Kamran Michael has been appointed the focal person for the case against suspects involved in the murder of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Michael as his representative for the case. “This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that the state will be the plaintiff in a case involving murder due to alleged blasphemy,” Michael told The Express Tribune. 

The minister said a special session of the cabinet on Thursday was briefed about the brutal murder of Shama and Sajjad. He said the prime minister asked him to not only pursue the case, but also make sure that it set a precedent so that no one would dare repeat such a barbaric act again.

He said the federal and provincial governments had decided that the state would be the plaintiff in the case. In the past, only the bereaved or relatives of the deceased were made plaintiffs. “But they usually end up reaching a compromise due to various reasons.” These include facing pressure from the perpetrators or those who sympathise with the culprits, he said. “Sometimes, they buy them out with blood money or favours.”

He said that the case would set a precedent and teach a lesson to all those who take the law into their own hands.

Michael said he thanked the prime minister for taking action. “Almost everyone in the cabinet expressed serious reservations against the act.” He said that he expressed reservations over the abolition of the Ministry of National Harmony after the 18th Amendment.

He said the ministry could have been played the essential role of projecting a soft image of Pakistan abroad. As representative of the prime minister, Michael said, he would pursue the case and try to improve the country’s image.

Punjab Minister for Human Rights Khalil Tahir Sindhu said the owners of the brick kiln, Yousuf Gujjar and his son-in-law, had been arrested. Police investigations have found them guilty of egging on a prayer leader to declare Shama and Sajjad guilty of blasphemy from the loud speaker of a mosque.

Sindhu said the incident in Kot Radha Kishan was sheer brutality. He said the brick kiln owners had a monetary dispute with the couple.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • jg
    Nov 8, 2014 - 10:19AM

    Will there be public hanging for these animals and especially for the prayer leader


  • Asif
    Nov 8, 2014 - 10:27AM

    is this a political scoring or a serious effort from the government.?


  • Nawaz-The-Hero
    Nov 8, 2014 - 10:31AM

    Awesome work by the PM. The perpetrators should be hanged publicly!


  • Abdullah
    Nov 8, 2014 - 10:48AM



  • Kamran
    Nov 8, 2014 - 10:52AM

    I never thought I would live to see this day! Finally some sense. In civilized countries the state is always the plaintiff in eery criminal case whether it is a shoplifting or a serial murderer. Every single criminal case in Pakistan should be:
    “The state of Pakistan vs. ____

    I don’t understand how Pakistani law works? How can the person harmed be the plaintiff in a criminal case, the way it is currently. I guess I have lived in the West among developed law systems too long.


  • Imtiaz
    Nov 8, 2014 - 11:19AM

    @Asif for God sake please learn to accept something which is positive. Seems you are IK follower!


  • naeemhussain
    Nov 8, 2014 - 12:00PM

    @Imtiaz: Asif is right. IK or his followers have nothing to do with it. We are all sad and ashamed what happened. Nawaz Sharif is only pursuing this case under foreign pressure. The thing which is most important is not to just punish the responsible but also to take preventive measures as well that it could never happen again. If he does not take preventive measures just punishment will be not enough.


  • Imran
    Nov 8, 2014 - 12:44PM

    This is the biggest loophole in the Judicial System that the state never takes up the role of plaintiff. It’s the root of all evil in our country, but none of the parties PTI, PMLN or PPP has ever raised it before the parliament or in public. Even Iftikhar Chaudhry never took it this up. 90% of terrorists would be hanged if this practice is adopted by the country.


  • tauseef rasheed
    Nov 8, 2014 - 1:56PM

    The state should ensure that the nation watch the fate of the killers in shortest possible time and must be hanged till death to give an message to the nation and international viewers that this barbaric act is not acceptable against minorities and any individual or mob involved in this brutal act will be strictly punished.


  • Nov 8, 2014 - 2:26PM

    Another case, another appointment.


  • Jibran
    Nov 8, 2014 - 2:27PM

    According to the law, it’s always the state which is the plaintiff. This is why there are public prosecutors. I’m surprised to hear that it was not being practiced in Punjab.


  • Malveros
    Nov 8, 2014 - 2:30PM

    Good Job Nawaz Sharif. A precedent must be set for the future.


  • bahadur khan
    Nov 8, 2014 - 4:41PM

    @naeemhussain: good points. Not practicable. Kamran Michael is not empowered. Similarly other minorities like hindu valmikis are harassed. One lady is awaiting hanging due to alleged remarks. Harassment/ torture/drugging of Rinki Kumari. Anjali in Thraparkar , sind goes back to 1947. We have a state totally out of control.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 8, 2014 - 8:35PM

    Nothing will happen. Whole drama of State ownership is staged to set aside International pressure. The only moment to provide justice to victims was before or during the commission of injustice. In a system in which Police cannot save, stop and kill criminals when they are committing a heinous crime, it cannot provide justice to victims afterwards. Coward governments of past and present only wake up briefly and that too when pressurised by International community but before waking up they take necessary steps to save further humiliation. In this case too, Mian of Punjab has silenced the victims family by giving them huge amounts which they do not deserve. The other Christian leaders have already been silenced and it has also made sure that no witness come forward. The trick is to arrest and humiliate everybody in surrounding areas to create unity in whole community.


  • Nov 8, 2014 - 10:02PM

    Why the courts not taken this case as ‘su moto’. The govt should confiscate the properties of all the accused.


  • Gamu Sachar
    Nov 9, 2014 - 6:20PM

    Nothing will happen. No witness will come up out of fear of getting killed by fanatic fundamentalists and the case will fizzle out in the course of time.


  • Rocky
    Nov 10, 2014 - 8:50AM

    Excellent decision by PMLN government in center and the province. Becoming the plaintiff themselves would mean that the accused cannot intimidate and harass the plaintiffs. Appointing a member of the Christian community to oversee the progress is another good thing, for it shows the governments seriousness to set a precedent.


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