LAHORE: A petition has been filed before the Lahore High Court asking that Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer be stopped from making any attempt to get blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi pardoned or released.
Advocate Chaudhry Shahid Iqbal, the petitioner, also asked that any attempt by the Punjab government or the Ministry of Law to get Aasia Bibi pardoned of the conviction, which carries the death penalty, be declared illegal.
The petitioner, represented by a seven-member panel of lawyers, urged the court to summon the personal secretary to the governor so he could explain under what authority the governor had issued his statement declaring his belief that Aasia was innocent. He submitted that the secretary be directed to ensure that the governor’s office does not interfere in the matter.
The petitioner said since the matter was pending before the courts, all inquiry committees set up by the federal and provincial governments should be declared illegal and suspended.
The petitioner said that the federal government should be directed not to take any decision upon the appeal of Aasia Bibi submitted at the behest of the governor, and that the federal government be directed to remove the governor from his office, for which he was “ineligible”.
Aasia was convicted by a trial court under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code of uttering derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She was sentenced to death and fined Rs100,000.
The petitioner said that after her trial, the governor visited and met Aasia Bibi in Sheikhupura district jail. After the meeting he stated that he had read the case record and believed Aasia to be innocent. He said he had signed a mercy appeal from Aasia for onward submission to the president.
The petitioner said the governor’s comments about Aasia’s innocence, at a time when the matter was sub judice, indicated his “malafide intentions”.
He said the governor had used “insulting language” about Section 295-C of the PPC.
The petitioner also noted that the Punjab and federal governments had set up inquiry committees to investigate the case. He said this indicated that the government leaders had no confidence in the courts and preferred their own personal opinions and inquiry committees, which amounted to an abuse of authority and contempt of court.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2010.