Khudayar Mohla –
Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed plea seeking review of its October 31, 2018 verdict of acquitting a Christian woman Aasia Bibi in blasphemy case as the court has overturned capital punishment of the accused on the grounds that prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence.
A three-judge bench of the Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel didn’t find any merit in the review petition as complainant counsel failed to point out any illegality in acquittal of Aasia Bibi.
At the outset of the hearing, counsel for complainant Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry urged the court to form a larger bench of religious scholars to hear the review petition. However, the Chief Justice Khosa observed no point of religion has arisen at the moment in the case.
During the course of proceedings, the Chief Justice observed whether there is any provision that Islam allows punishing without evidence, adding the court will examine to form larger bench in the matter, if required.
Chaudhry alleged that Supreme Court has overruled its own precedent while acquitting Aasia Bibi saying a larger bench of the apex court earlier has decided in a case that if any statement of the accused is not cross examined, would be presumed correct.
To which Chief Justice observed if the counsel of accused forget to cross-examine any part of the accused statement then what should be done. While asking the complainant’s counsel to argue on merit of the case and point out where the court misread the evidence in the matter, the Chief Justice Khosa observed if the court had not read the evidence correctly it would be immediately corrected.
Chief Justice further observed that there were no true witnesses in the case as women witnesses changed their statement before investigation officer while saying there was no any fall-out on the spot that led to register case of blasphemy against Aasia Bibi.
Trial Court awarded death penalty to Aasia Bibi in the case during November 2010, subsequently, Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence on October 16,2014. Counsel for Aasia Bibi appealed before Supreme Court against the death sentence to which the Supreme Court reversed the concurrent decisions and overturned the sentence while acquitting Aasia Bibi on October 31,2018.
In its verdict, a three-member bench led by former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar held, “Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,”.
After a month on November 01,2018, complainant Qari Muhammad Salaam filed review petition through his counsel before Lahore registry of the Supreme Court urging for revisiting apex court’s earlier decision on the grounds that acquittal of Aasia Bibi did not meet the standards of jurisprudence, Islamic provisions and the normal principle of justice with reference to application in blasphemy laws.
Chaudhry also sought the court directives to place Aasia Bibi name on no-fly list till final adjudication of the review petition.
Meanwhile, taking precautionary measures law enforcement agencies beefed up security in federal capital in light of expected protests on Tuesday police contingents were increased on entry points of Islamabad. In addition to police personnel, Rangers were also deployed for the cause whereas vehicles enroute to the federal capital were checked at various points.
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