LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) acquitted last week a man accused of committing blasphemy pointing out ‘serious’ discrepancies in the prosecution’s assertions against him.
The single-judge bench hearing the case observed that the prosecution’s account seemed to hinge upon conjectures and surmises.
It held that the complainant, a journalist affiliated with an Urdu language daily, “used to visit the police station in connection with the investigation of certain cases being investigated by the accused (SHO of the police station).”
When the SHO refused to favour a party in an ongoing investigation, the journalist charged him with uttering derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at the station.
He made an announcement at the mosque and narrated the incident to 65 notables of the area. Later, he submitted an application to the Kasur DPO who registered an FIR against the SHO and arrested him.
The accused officer had challenged his conviction and sentencing by the trial court. The complainant, for his part, sought an enhancement of the sentence from life imprisonment to death.
The SHO’s counsel submitted before the LHC that the police had sought a fatwa from Jamia Naeemia, which categorically said that in view of the evidence on record, the offence of blasphemy was not established. The counsel added that police, too, had declared his client as innocent in its challan.
Furthermore, the SHO argued that the complainant had himself admitted before the trial court that the application against the SHO had been written by some of his friends.
The counsel also questioned the manner in which the trial court had convicted his client, claiming that it had not referred to facts of the case and law on the subject. The prosecution witnesses, he calimed, too were biased
Due to these allegations, the accused had to spend six years and five months in jail after being fined Rs200,000 and sentenced to life in prison.
“This court is of the firm view that in these circumstances, to maintain the sentence would be against the cannons of safe administration of justice especially when neither the complainant, nor the prosecution witnesses have adequate Islamic knowledge to be tested upon the touchstone of Tazkiatul Shahood.
“Hence, this cannot be considered as legal evidence to connect the accused with the commission of offence and the trial court was not justified in convicting him based on such inconsistent evidence which is full of material contradictions,” the judge observed in his order.
The judge directed that the appellant be acquitted of the charge under Section 295-C of PPC and be released forthwith if not required in any other case.
Ayyan gets bail
The LHC ordered the release of model Ayyan after granting her bail in a money- laundering case. The bench remarked that the accused was no longer needed for investigation and that it appeared that the case was not related to money laundering as claimed by the investigators.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.