ISLAMABAD: A British national of Pakistani origin who spent five years in a Karachi prison over blasphemy charges has been granted bail by the apex court.
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, granted bail to Muradur Rehman in an offence under section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) last month.
“We have felt inclined to admit the petitioner (accused) to bail at such a stage of the case not only because the petitioner requires a specialist attention to his medical condition but also because the delay in conclusion of his trial has been found by us to be unconscionable, this petition is, therefore, converted into an appeal and the same is allowed”, the SC said in its four-page judgment — a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
The bench, however, directed the petitioner to deposit all his valid passports with the trial court so as to ensure that he keeps on appearing before the court as and when he is required to do so.
On May 22, the Sindh High Court refused to grant bail to Rehman in the blasphemy case, which was registered at Gizri police station in Karachi on July 18, 2009.
According to Additional Prosecutor General Sindh Saleem Akhtar, journalist Ansar Abbasi had registered case against the accused after receiving an allegedly blasphemous email.
Later, the accused approached the apex court over the SHC’s refusal of his bail plea. On October 17, Asma Jahangir appeared on behalf of the petitioner. The charge was framed against the accused on June 3, 2010, but no significant progress was seen in the trial.
The top court in its order also lamented that the petitioner has already spent more than five years in jail without his guilt being established.
The bench has also observed that the case record shows that on a number of occasions the petitioner has been medically assessed and evaluated for a possible psychological disorder. It also highlighted Professor Dr S Haroon Ahmed’s medical report regarding the petitioner prepared on May 11, 2011.
On the other hand, senior lawyer Tariq Mahmood said that it is unfortunate that due to out of court pressure trial courts are reluctant to conclude the trial in blasphemy cases.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2014.