News Analysis |
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday has rejected a review petition challenging the apex court’s decision to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman entangled in 8-years-long death row in a blasphemy case.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel took up the petition filed against the top court’s verdict acquitting Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges and setting her free.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday has rejected a review petition challenging the apex court’s decision to acquit Asia Bibi.
During the hearing, petitioner Qari Muhammad Salaam’s lawyer Ghulam Mustafa said that the matter of Aasia’s acquittal is a matter concerning the Muslim ulema and religious scholars should also be called to present their point of view.
“Does Islam say that one should be punished if the crime is not proven,” questioned Justice Khosa. The petitioner argued that Bibi confessed to her crimes during the investigation. “An FIR lodged five days after an incident is suspect,” said Justice Khosa while referring to report lodged in the case and which formed the basis for Aasia’s prosecution.
Mr. Mustafa maintained that a delay in lodging the First Information Request does not imply that the defendant is not guilty of the crime. “Prove to us what [you believe] is wrong with the verdict,” said Chief Justice Khosa.
Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel took up the petition filed against the top court’s verdict acquitting Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges and setting her free.
“The verdict did not take into account some views [of the witnesses’ testimonies],” argued the lawyer. “If a testimony isn’t further examined [by the lawyers], it is understood to be true.”
“You should talk on the merits [of the verdict],” the top judge remarked.
“The petitioner is not able to pinpoint any mistake in the SC verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi,” remarked the CJP.
The petitioner had also sought to put her name on the Exit Control List until a final decision on the review petition was made.
Asia Bibi’s conviction was overturned by Pakistan’s highest court on October 31 in a landmark decision, but she had remained in prison as the government negotiated with protesters from religious groups — led by the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) — who blockaded major cities and demanded her immediate execution.
On November 2, the government had agreed in a deal with the protesters to follow due process to impose a travel ban on Bibi, and not to challenge the review appeal in the Supreme Court.