Pak SC rejects petition-challenging death as the only punishment for blasphemy

April 22nd, 2009 - 4:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Nawaz Sharif Islamabad, Apr 22 (ANI): Pakistan’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against a Federal Shariat Court (FSC) ruling that death is the only punishment that the Islamic law provides for blasphemy.

The Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court gave the decision on Tuesday, The Dawn reported.

Bishop Dani L. Tasleem filed the appeal 18 years ago after the FSC gave the judgment in exercise of its powers to determine if the existing laws conformed to Sharia.

Describing the lesser punishments provided for blasphemy in the prevalent law as un-Islamic, the FSC had caused consternation at home and criticism abroad.

In 1991, the FSC while deciding a petition of Mohammad Ismail Qureshi had held that the alternative punishment of life imprisonment provided in Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.

Authored by the then chief justice Gul Mohammad Khan, the FSC had also ordered to send the verdict to the then president to take steps and amend the law to bring it in conformity with injunctions of Islam. In case the action was not taken by April 30, 1991, the words ‘or imprisonment for life’ in Section 295-C should cease to have effect, the judgment had held.

The FSC had also directed the government to add a clause to make acts or things said about other prophets an offence with the same punishment.

Deputy Attorney-General Agha Tariq Mehmood, who represented the federal government, said that the petition was dismissed because the appellant did not pursue it. Reports suggest that the petitioner is not alive.

In compliance with the FSC judgment, a bill was introduced in the National Assembly during the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1991 to amend the law.

‘The issue is of horrendous importance for the people of Pakistan in the sense that the FSC judgment which remained suspended for quite some time will now be implemented,’ a constitutional expert said. (ANI)

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