SC questions whether individuals have authority to punish blasphemers

Published: October 6, 2015
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Mumtaz Qadri PHOTO: AFP

Mumtaz Qadri PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court questioned on Tuesday whether individuals had the authority to punish a blasphemer.

Hearing former elite force guard Mumtaz Qadri’s plea, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the main issue in the case is whether individuals can presume the authority to punish a blasphemer.

Justice Khosa expressed apprehension that if people took the authority to punish blasphemers then a “trend will start” which will be “dangerous for society.”

Read: Plea against death sentence: Defence says religious scholar influenced Qadri

Further, the judge said that there are a number of precedents in the superior courts wherein individuals have leveled allegations of blasphemy on the basis of their personal grudges.

Justice Khosa also questioned whether the accused had approached the state against former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

Although agreeing with the court’s apprehension, the counsel for the accused, Nazir Akhtar, said, “Punishing a blasphemer is a religious duty which has to be performed by everyone.”

“In 80 cases, courts have given punishment and in 40 cases individuals have taken steps against blasphemers,” Akhtar added.

Read: Mumtaz Qadri case: At least 70 ST activists held

On Monday, Qadri’s lawyer argued before a bench of the Supreme Court that the guard had acted on his own interpretation of the blasphemy law and teachings of the Holy Quran after being influenced by speeches of a religious scholar to assassinate ex-Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

Mian Nazir Akhtar, arguing Qadri’s plea to overturn the death sentence awarded by an anti-terror court, said that the guard was convinced Taseer had committed blasphemy.

The three-member bench noted that the real culprit was the person who had induced Qadri to commit the act.

Justice Khosa added that no evidence had been presented that showed Taseer committed blasphemy; rather it seemed that the slain governor had pointed out defects in the law — which did not constitute a crime.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Ahmed Rahman
    Oct 6, 2015 - 3:55PM

    These guys are wasting the courts time, Qadri should be hanged to death no questions asked! If we all start taking the law into our own hands what will be the difference between us and barbarians! Recommend

  • Pea Brain
    Oct 6, 2015 - 4:03PM

    It’s amazing how this is arguable!Recommend

  • Truth
    Oct 6, 2015 - 4:41PM

    I have to say – this can go for many wrongs which people commit and certain moral ills which are prevalent in the country. In short, it is a recipe for anarchy. And what if the person people have killed was innocent? You would be very much responsible for the death of an innocent man. The courts of law are there to deal with these issues – the public needs to realise this. The rule of law and not the rule of men must reign supreme.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Oct 6, 2015 - 4:48PM

    Its sad to read that honourable judges are asking a question which was answered centuries ago. Don’t they know what law of the jungle means? What is the purpose of courts then? I am really shocked.Recommend

  • miristan
    Oct 6, 2015 - 5:03PM

    Do we still live in the 6th century ?Recommend

  • DarkJustice
    Oct 6, 2015 - 5:15PM

    @Ahmed Rahman:
    When there is no Law You have to define your own…!!Recommend

  • shocked
    Oct 6, 2015 - 5:29PM

    “The three-member bench noted that the real culprit was the person who had induced Qadri to commit the act.”

    What?? So Qadri is not the real culprit?? When members of the highest court of Pakistan take such notifications, hope for true justice is lost! But, I won’t blame them too, our law of blasphemy itself is absolutely against common sense that no sane man can interpret it to give proper justice. #abolishblasphemylawRecommend

  • Usman
    Oct 6, 2015 - 7:23PM

    Dear Lordships for heaven sake stop ridiculing yourself and Justice in Pakistan. Move on from asking these well settled questions. It was a cold blood murder, for God sake show some courage and turn down Qadri’s petition so that he is hanged till death.Recommend

  • Azmat Ali
    Oct 6, 2015 - 7:37PM

    Who governs the right of the accused to be able to present a defense against the accusations leveled against him, if individuals take on the task of judge, jury and executioner upon themselves?
    Courts exist to provide some sanity to the process to go from accusation to punishment. Such a process will not exist if individuals were allowed to mete out justice to other individuals or groups of people.
    Yes, a blasphemer must be taken to task, but if and only if their act of blasphemy can be proved. And, in the truest of sense, blasphemy is only damaging, if done loudly and in public. If someone says something stupid between two people, would it be better to give it a voice, bigger than ever intended, or simply to disconnect oneself from the person doing so. Allah knows better and He is capable of meting out His punishment to whoever is the doer of such evil. Making a show out of that and creating chaos that results in loss to people’s property or life is ridiculous. Recommend

  • Shiv
    Oct 6, 2015 - 7:54PM

    @miristan: Yes, and for eternityRecommend

  • cautious
    Oct 6, 2015 - 8:04PM

    And you wonder why the rest of the World has no respect for Pakistan justice system? It’s like debating whether any of Pakistan’s 180 million individuals has right to be judge, jury, and executioner. If Pakistan ever decided to reform it’s judicial system it should start with the SC.Recommend

  • Hamid Aswad
    Oct 6, 2015 - 10:18PM

    The judges have to care for their own safety as well. Hence they are beating about the bush. If our country cannot punish blatant and obvious crimes like these, then what hope do we have to corner criminals in the Axact case or the numerous other scams. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 7, 2015 - 12:10AM

    Cold blooded murder by any name or under any circumstances is still MURDER…..and should be judged accordingly.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Oct 7, 2015 - 1:27AM

    Pakistan dream of becoming Arab is now complete.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Oct 7, 2015 - 5:13AM

    Pakistan should be informed that this is 21st century.Recommend

  • Iron hand
    Oct 7, 2015 - 7:20AM

    @Ahmed Rahman:
    No difference at all.Recommend

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