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SC irked over police becoming party to blasphemy case

Justice Isa says police’s job is to provide security, not file cases

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa lambasted the prosecution on Wednesday as he questioned how the police had become party to a blasphemy case registered in Shujaabad.

The judge later granted bail to the accused citing the prosecution’s lack of interest in the case. “How can the police become the plaintiff in a case [when] its job is to provide security?” he questioned. The judge also probed why the police officer registered the case five days after the incident had occurred. “The job of the prosecution is to assist the judiciary and not defend such cases,” Justice Isa remarked.

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“Such actions bring disrepute to the state,” added Justice Muhammad Amin. A two-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Isa, was hearing a blasphemy case registered against a 65 year old. The defendant is accused of worshipping a local shrine in Shujaabad by circling around it. In April this year, an anti-terrorism court had sentenced 88 persons and acquitted one accused as it announced its verdict in the lynching case of Sri Lankan citizen Piryantha Kumara.

The trial court awarded death sentence on two counts to six convicts along with the order to pay Rs200,000 as compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased, under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997. Nine of those convicted have been awarded life imprisonment along with payment of Rs200,000 fine each and Rs200,000 as compensation to the legal heirs.

At least 72 convicts were sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment each on three counts and one year each on two counts. Accused Ali Asghar has been awarded a sentence of five years and another accused, Bilal, was acquitted of the charges. Piryantha Kumara was working as a general manager at a factory in Sialkot. On December 3, 2021, he was murdered by a mob after being accused of committing blasphemy. Later, the mob set his body on fire. An FIR was registered in Ugoki Police Station in Sialkot.

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Blasphemy cases in 2021

Muslims made up a large chunk of people accused of committing blasphemy in the year 2021, according to a new report. A report titled ‘Human Rights Observer 2022’ prepared by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has revealed that every second person accused of blasphemy happened to be a Muslim, adding that as many as 84 persons had been booked for blasphemy throughout Pakistan in 2021. According to the report, 42 people accused of blasphemy were Muslims followed by 25 Ahmadis, seven Hindus and three Christians.

The report also noted that the issue of unverified and speculative accusations of blasphemy has deepened, leading to incidents of lynching and extrajudicial settlements. The issue was further brought to light in the wake of a flurry of shocking incidents wherein suspects were lynched over mere suspicions.

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