LHC ruling upholds validity of blasphemy law -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

LHC ruling upholds validity of blasphemy law

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: While a select group continues to demand the abolition of blasphemy law, the Lahore High Court only recently, while confirming the death penalty of yet another blasphemy convict, has upheld the death sentence for a blasphemer in the light of Quran and Sunnah.

Decided by a division bench of the LHC headed by Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, the next Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, and comprising Justice Sh. Ahmad Farooq, the LHC ruled, “There is no denial to the proposition that the Holy Quran enjoins the Muslims to hold the last beloved Prophet of Allah (PBUH) dearer than themselves and their kith and kin and this is also strengthened by the Ahadiths that is why the law of the land has suggested the death penalty in such like cases.”

The judgment, handed down on October 29 this year, also said, “To constitute offence under Section 295-C, P.P.C. number witnesses are not required and it is not necessary that such abusive language should be made loudly in public or in a meeting or at some specific place, but statement of single witness that somebody had made utterance for the contempt of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) even inside the house is sufficient to award death penalty to such contemner.”

The case pertained to the criminal appeal of one Raja Wajihul Hassan, a convert Qadiani, against his conviction by an additional districts and session judge, Lahore, who punished him with death sentence for writing letters to religious scholar and Advocate Muhammad Ismail Qureshi with fictitious names containing blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (RA).

The trial court, besides seeing the investigation conducted by the police, had taken the handwriting specimen of the accused and sent the letters received by Ismail Qureshi to the handwriting expert. The expert verified that the specimen of writing of accused and letters received by Ismail Qureshi had similar characters. The accused didn’t deny making threatening and contemptuous calls to Ismail Qureshi.

According to the judgment, the accused appellant had taken a specific stand of his false implication in the instant case on his refusal to admit that the letters in question were in fact written by Asma Jahangir but the appellant failed to produce any evidence in support of his aforesaid plea. The judgment said that the burden of proof to prove the story narrated by the appellant in the statement under Section 342 Cr.P.C was heavily laid upon him and non-production of evidence by the appellant in support of his defence plea would rather strengthen the prosecution evidence as the appellant himself admitted the manner of his meeting with both the prosecution witnesses who narrated the story of extrajudicial confession.

“The statement of both the aforesaid witnesses of extrajudicial confession made by the appellant are supported by the statement of the complainant, statement of expert who verified the handwriting of the letters to be that of the accused-appellant whereas the defence plea taken by the accused-appellant is not supported by any other corroborative piece of evidence, as such, the same cannot be given preference over the inspiring,” the judgment said. The judgment also reflects that the contemner Wajih initially worked in the office of senior advocate Asma Jahangir and later joined a steel industry company.

In his statement, the convict had claimed that he and his father were working in the office of Asma Jehangir’s husband but after sometime he left the said office and joined a steel industry. He claimed that he was forced to admit that the letters were written by Asma Jehangir. Upon refusal, he said, he was taken to Allama Iqbal Town police station where Ismail Qureshi was present. He accused Qureshi of having a grudge against Asma Jehangir and said that the motive was to lodge an FIR against Asma Jehangir and her sister Hina Jillani.

The court, however, observed that the prosecution successfully proved the guilt of the accused through reliable, cogent and inspiring confidence evidence, which is available on record in the shape of letters written by the convict and the handwriting expert has declared the said writing to be that of the appellant (convict); that all the prosecution witnesses have fully established guilt of the appellant through their statements and the appellant has not been able to point out any enmity, ill will or grudge against the witnesses, as such, the learned trial court has rightly convicted and sentenced the appellant.
Source: The News
Date:11/30/2010