Home Global Village Anti-Terrorism Court records testimonies in online blasphemy case

Anti-Terrorism Court records testimonies in online blasphemy case

blasphemy case

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The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Tuesday recorded the testimony of three witnesses pertaining to an online blasphemy case. The witnesses testified before ATC judge Shahrukh Arjumand. They had previously failed to appear before the court and non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against them by the ATC. Four suspects of the case are already in custody.

FIA registered a report against them unless various clauses of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997. The complainant Ehtesham Ahmed, and witnesses Romaan Ahmed and Ammar Yasir recorded their statements before the ATC. They belong to the Lal Masjid-led Shohada Foundation. The court had earlier canceled the bail plea of a college professor who is one of the accused in this case.

While other blasphemy clauses are bailable, the order of Justice Siddiqui to enter all blasphemy accused to the ECL might change that and all blasphemy crimes might become non-bailable.

The defense counsel was not present in the court on Monday; the witnesses will be cross-questioned on January 9th (Tuesday). Shohada Foundation had also lodged a blasphemy case against the five bloggers who went missing in January last year. The court has since absolved them on the charges after the incumbent FIA director testified that no evidence of blasphemy was found against the suspects.

Read more: Blasphemy & Terrorism: Tools to repress Opponents?

The presiding justice Shaukat Siddiqui ordered strict action against those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy. Blasphemy has always been a very contentious issue in Pakistan where a person can be murdered over a mere accusation of sacrilege. Last year, a mob brutally murdered a student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mashal Khan, over a blasphemy allegation. Later, a JIT was constituted to probe into the Mashal Khan murder case and found no evidence of him committing blasphemy.

A person who is accused of 295C cannot leave the country since their name is added to the Exit Control List (ECL). It is also a non-bailable offence.

Justice Shaukat Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the Federal Government to crack down on online blasphemous content. In 2017, he also ordered the government to add the name of the accused on the Exit Control List (ECL). Siddiqui also advised the government not to succumb to international pressure and utilize the services of intelligence agencies to shut down sacrilegious pages on social media.

“I would summon the Prime Minister if the government fails to comply with the court’s orders”, he remarked. The government has promised to write new legislature concerning pornography and blasphemy on the internet. Justice Siddiqui also ordered the punishment of people who falsely accuse someone of blasphemy; they should be given twice the punishment according to him. Blasphemy laws have been widely used in the past to settle personal scores and enmities.

Read more: Social media ban: Blasphemy or a political reason?

Siddiqui advised the government to add a clause pertaining to severe punishments for false accusations of blasphemy. Senate Standing Committee on interior on Friday directed the ministry to take stern action against the misuse of social media. Those leveling fake allegations and posting fake FIRs regarding blasphemy should be strictly penalized.

The presiding justice Shaukat Siddiqui ordered strict action against those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy. Blasphemy has always been a very contentious issue in Pakistan where a person can be murdered over a mere accusation of sacrilege.

Committee Chairman Rehman Malik advised that either there should be an amendment to the cybercrime laws or new law should be enacted for stringent punishment of false accusers. The ATC had last year sentenced a man to death over a blasphemy case. The punishment for article 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code(PPC) is death. Other anti-blasphemy clauses subscribe the punishment from a few years to life imprisonment.

Read more: The twist and turns of the Blasphemy law in Pakistan

A person who is accused of 295C cannot leave the country since their name is added to the Exit Control List (ECL). It is also a non-bailable offence. While other blasphemy clauses are bailable, the order of Justice Siddiqui to enter all blasphemy accused to the ECL might change that and all blasphemy crimes might become non-bailable.


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