ISLAMABAD: The country’s top court upheld on Wednesday the death sentence for former elite force guard Mumtaz Qadri for killing former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa scrapped a plea seeking to revoke Qadri’s death sentence. The sentence was first awarded by an anti-terror court and was then upheld by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) before being challenged in the apex court.
The bench also accepted the federal government’s appeal against Islamabad High Court’s order, wherein charges of terrorism on Qadri was dropped. The bench while announcing short order restored the anti terrorism court’s order.
During the hearing, the counsels for Qadri requested the bench to award lesser sentence to their client as he had no personal grudge with Taseer.
On Tuesday, the three-judge bench has questioned whether an individual had the authority to assume the role of a judge, jury and executioner after having accused someone of blasphemy.
Justice Khosa was apprehensive that if people had the authority to punish alleged blasphemers, then chaos will reign. He warned that people could misuse it by accusing opponents of blasphemy to settle personal scores.
The court further asked whether Qadri had approached the state with his accusation of blasphemy against Taseer, and whether any evidence was available that lent credence to such accusations.
Qadri’s counsel Justice (retd) Mian Nazir Akhtar contended that something had happened just before Taseer was killed since none of the other elite force personnel present at the scene reacted to Qadri’s action. He added that punishing a blasphemer was a religious duty enjoined on everyone.
The counsel argued that in blasphemy cases, words also matter though intention to commit a crime may not be as relevant.
Taseer was killed in January 2011 in Islamabad’s Kohsar market.