The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday admitted for regular hearing a petition seeking directions to the federal government not to table the blasphemy law amendment bill.
LHC Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif also issued a notice to the federal government for December 23.
The petition was filed by a citizen Muhammad Nasir, stating that the parliament has no right to amend the blasphemy law.
The parliament cannot amend or alter the blasphemy law to soften the punishments linked to the offence, he submitted. He added that the blasphemy law was promulgated in light of the Quranic injunctions to protect the honour and dignity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and it cannot be amended.
During the hearing, the CJ asked Deputy Attorney-General Naseem Kashmiri, who was present in the court, if it is true that the government is bringing such a bill in the parliament. Kashmiri denied it.
The petitioner, however, alleged that the amendment bill had been drafted and the government is ready to table it in the parliament.
Meanwhile, a petition against the federal government’s bid to pardon blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi was also fixed for hearing on Monday. Hearing was adjourned till December 23.
Earlier, the chief justice had sought a reply from the federal government, restraining the president from pardoning Aasia Bibi until the LHC gave its verdict on her appeal.
Kashmiri, on behalf of the federation, sought more time and the CJ adjourned hearing also till December 23, observing that these petitions were identical and should be clubbed.
The petitioner had submitted that the government is planning to grant pardon to Aasia Bibi under pressure from foreign countries. According to Article 45 of the Constitution, Aasia Bibi cannot be pardoned by the president because her case is sub judice, the counsel pleaded.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2010.
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