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HomeNationalBlasphemy accused cannot be prosecuted on basis of dreams, visions: LHC

Blasphemy accused cannot be prosecuted on basis of dreams, visions: LHC

The Lahore High Court quashed a FIR registered under blasphemy charges, observing that a person could not be prosecuted merely on the basis of what he sees in his dreams or for sharing his thoughts, visions, or emotions with others.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh held that the police failed in collecting substantial evidence to establish the offence against the accused and observed that those suffering from mental illnesses should be provided treatment and protection against punishment. “If we examine FIR we find that the offence under section 295-A PPC is not made out. There is no allegation that the petitioner did anything to offend any group of people or insult their religion or religious beliefs. Furthermore, the Assistant Advocate General could not point out any circumstances that might indicate malice on his part,” Justice Tariq observed in his detailed judgement issued on Saturday.

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“There is no evidence to suggest that the petitioner intended to offend or harm the religious sensibilities of complainant or any other person with his statements,” Justice Tariq added. It is pertinent to mention that a resident of Sohrabwala, Tehsil and District Mianwali on August 30, 2021 had filed a complaint with the Station House Officer (SHO) of Police Station Saddar alleging that the accused petitioner held sacrilegious beliefs that he began propagating to the general public about six months ago.{ According to him, the accused petitioner claimed that he could fly and see Allah Almighty and various companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in his dreams. He further claimed that on August 26, 2021, the accused made similar statements before a crowd. “Such propagation hurt the community’s religious feelings and was likely to incite violence.” Finally the police on August 30, 2021 registered an FIR 337/2021 for an offence under section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

“Investigation regarding an offence usually begins when information about it is given to the officer in-charge of a police station. Its primary objective is to determine the facts and circumstances of the case,” said the LHC judge in the verdict.

The principle of fair investigation requires that when a police officer investigates an offence, particularly one under Chapter XV of the PPC, he should determine whether the accused is mentally sound. “He [the investigation officer] must apply to the competent forum for his psychiatric evaluation if he suspects mental illness,” said the judge. The law in Pakistan protects people with mental illnesses or impairments. Section 464 of CrPC ordains that a person of “unsound mind” who is incapable of assisting in his own defence cannot be tried. Section 84 of PPC recognises the legal insanity defence. It states that a person cannot be held criminally responsible for an act, if due to unsoundness of mind at the time of committing it, he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that it was wrong or illegal.

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The counsel for the petitioner contended that the FIR was politically motivated and concocted story. He argues that it does not state what blasphemous notions the petitioner holds and when he expressed them. The only specific allegation against him is that on August 26, 2021 that he told a group of people about his dreams and claimed to have seen Almighty Allah and certain holy personages. Such narration is not an offence under section 295-A PPC.

Assistant Advocate General Mukhtar Ahmad Ranjha refuted the petitioner counsel’s contentions. He submitted that the petitioner’s thoughts and beliefs are blasphemous and sinful, and the law prohibits their expression. He contends that the accused deliberately and maliciously concocts false stories which offend other people’s religious feelings.

Although the petitioner was engaged in his nefarious activity for quite some time, FIR pertains to the specific incident that occurred and the prosecution witnesses support the prosecution case. “The FIR cannot be quashed because there is sufficient incriminating evidence against the petitioner,” said the assistant advocate general.

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