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Court adjourns appeals of convicts in blasphemy case

IHC seeks comments in case against appointment of HEC member

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of appeals of four people against their convictions in a case pertaining to the uploading of blasphemous material on social media. A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Sardar Ijaz Ishaq Khan heard the case filed by accused Professor Anwaar Ahmed, Abdul Waheed, Rana Noman Rafaqat and Nasir Ahmed Sultani.

The lawyers of the petitioners prayed the court to grant some time for case preparation. The court said that if defence lawyer Asad Jamal would not appear at the next hearing then it would appoint a prosecutor to defend the case of the two accused. The hearing of the case was then adjourned for four weeks. It may be mentioned here that a trial court had announced the death penalty to three accused – Abdul Waheed, Rana Noman Rafaqat and Nasir Ahmed Sultani – after the crime was proved against them.

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The court, however, awarded a 10-year imprisonment sentence to accused Professor Anwaar Ahmed. The four persons were charged with uploading sacrilegious material on social media. Separately, the IHC instructed the respondents to submit their comments in a case against the appointment of Higher Education Commission (HEC) member Dr. Attaur Rehman. Justice Aamer Farooq heard the case filed through lawyer Barrister Umar Ijaz Gilani. HEC Chairman Dr. Tariq Banori also appeared in person before the court. The petitioner’s lawyer said that the post of HEC chairman had been made non-functional through a notification dated February 8, issued by the executive director of the commission. He prayed the court to turn down the said notification.

The HEC chairman said that he had been stopped from working through the above-mentioned notification. The federation requested the court to grant more time for the submission of its comments in the case. At this, the hearing of the case was adjourned until April 4.

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