LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the execution of Christian woman Aasia Bibi and granted her leave to appeal against her conviction on charges of blasphemy.
Hearing her petition at the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry, a three-judge bench – headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nasir and comprising Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Umar Ata Bandial – observed that it was necessary to re-examine the case record to ensure justice was administered.
In her petition, Aasia – who has been on death row for nearly five years – denied passing any blasphemous remarks and contended that she was accused of committing the offense due to personal feud.
Aasia’s counsel submitted before the court that the trial judge who had sentenced his client to death based his guilty verdict on a confession she had allegedly made before a local assembly at her village. He argued that even the testimony of the witnesses called by the prosecution showed that the alleged confession was made in a hostile environment where Aasia feared for her life.
Aasia’s counsel also pointed out that no witness appeared before the court to defend her and that she was the only person to testify in her own defence. He added that the FIR against Aasia was registered some five days after she had allegedly passed the contentious remarks and was proof of the complainant’s ‘mala fide intent’.
Aasia has been in jail since June 2009 after she was accused of passing blasphemous remarks following a quarrel with a Muslim co-worker. She claims her co-worker had conspired with a local cleric to get a false case registered against her.
Talking to reporters following Wednesday’s proceedings, Aasia’s counsel said this was the first time a decision in the case had come in his client’s favour. He added that they would now file a formal appeal and voiced hope that Aasia would be cleared of the charges.
The court has yet to fix a date for the next hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.
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