On Thursday The Supreme Court fixed for hearing a review petition over the court’s decision to overturn Asia Bibi’s conviction in a blasphemy case.
Next week on Tuesday, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will head the three member bench comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel that will hear the review petition filed by Qari Muhammad Salaam.
On October 30, 2018, the Supreme Court had acquitted Asia, a Christian mother condemned to death on blasphemy charges, accepting her appeal against her sentencing. “Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the suspected blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” the then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had written in the verdict.
The acquittal had sparked three day long mass protests led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
The protests were called off after the religio-political party reached an agreement with the current government the foremost condition of which was the placement of Asia’s name on the Exit Control List. The government, though, had only agreed to “initiate the legal process” to place her name on the list, while also agreeing that it would not oppose any review petitions being filed against the SC judgment.
On November 7 after her release from Multan’s women prison, Asia Bibi was flown to Islamabad on-board a special aircraft. She was then taken to an unrevealed place amid tight security. Authorities have remained reserved about her movement and whereabouts for security reasons.
Qari Salaam filed the review in the case on 1st November, 2018 at the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court, urging the SC to reconsider its decision.
The petitioner had also sought the placement of Asia’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) till the judgment is reviewed.
In the petition, it has been contended that the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s acquittal of Asia Bibi did not meet the standards of jurisprudence as well as Islamic provisions and the “normal principle of justice with reference to application in blasphemy laws.”
It has also asked whether the Supreme Court of Pakistan was bound to take into consideration the nature of the case and deliberate all the technical faults in it especially the inordinate delay in the filing of the First Information Report, the defective investigation and let them become “a hurdle in the dispensation of justice, in view of the application of blasphemy laws read with judgments of the superior courts.”
It has further asked that a member of the Appellate Shariat Court be included in the bench that reviews the judgment “because this matter needs detailed in depth consideration and due to the weird circumstances of the case as well as Application of Section 295-C in its time letter and spirit.”
It has also challenged the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the alleged ‘confession’ that Asia Bibi was forced to make by the people of her village and argued that the Supreme Court should have applied the Law of Evidence differently in this case.