The Supreme Court of Pakistan bars media from commenting on the matter of blasphemy convict Asia Bibi who is on death row. Hearing her appeal case today, Monday October 8 the three-member bench of the Supreme Court reserved it’s hearing in this case.
This is a high-profile case, generating a lot of attention from the international community as well as involving religious sentiments. 53-year-old Pakistani Christian woman was convicted of blasphemy in November back in 2010. Today’s hearing was taken up by a three-member bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar. the other two judges included Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.
The judges during the three hour hearing, highlighted several inconsistencies in the statements of the witnesses and the prosecution. Asia Bibi’s defense counsel Advocate Saif-ul-Malook told the court that the incident unfolded on June 14, 2009 and a case was registered on June 19. The complainant in this case Muslim cleric (Imam) in the Katanwala village claimed that Asia Bibi admitted that she committed blasphemy.
Chief Justice inquired if these things were on record, and was told that the Imam himself was not a witness to this incident. “There are also contradictions regarding how the notice of the incident was taken and the complainant has said the decision to register an FIR against Bibi was taken amid a group of people,” he added.
Further continuing, Advocate Malook highlighted another discrepancy stating that “Permission was not taken from the district coordination officer (DCO) or the district police officer (DPO) to register the FIR.” He told the court that the Imam had stated that the local villagers did not try to beat up Asia Bibi.
Justice Asif remarked that to this saying: “From your statements we have gathered that the Imam himself did not witness the incident as it happened and no blasphemous words were said in his presence.” Chief Justice added that “As per the prayer leader’s statement, a panchayat was held in a house and 1,000 people had gathered for it.” He asked Advocate Malook, “The FIR states that Bibi was a Christian preacher, was she really?” Asia’s defense counsel replied in the negative saying that “She was never a preacher.” After hearing arguments, the Supreme Court reserved its verdict in this case.