ISLAMABAD: Federal Shariat Court decrees termination of life imprisonment in the matter of blasphemy convictions.
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has emblematically ordered for removal of life imprisonment term from “Tahafaz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat” law commonly known as 295, saying: ”Sentence in blasphemy case is only death sentence and awarding any other punishment in this respect is not lawful.”
In this regard, a five-member larger bench of the Federal Shariat Court, headed by Justice Fida Hussain, heard a contempt of court petition filed by Hashmat Habib on Wednesday December 4. Whereas uttering judgment; the bench stated: ”The FSC had given a decision in 1990 that life imprisonment, mentioned with death sentence in blasphemy law should be deleted as any blasphemous act is not acceptable and the blasphemer is liable to be punished under death penalty.”
The petitioner, Hashmat Habib had filed petition in the Federal Shariat Court that the FSC’s 1990 verdict has not been put into practice hitherto. He begged the court to deliver orders for execution of this judgment in addition to instigate contempt of court trial against those who have not succeeded to apply the decision.
The Federal Shariat Court was established by the President’s Order No.1 of 1980 as included in the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 under chapter 3A. The court is a distinctive institution and is backed by powerful provisions in the Constitution of Pakistan. The Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has the authority to inspect and determine whether the laws of the country comply with Shari’a law. It consists of 8 Muslim judges appointed by the President of Pakistan after consulting the Chief Justice of this Court, from amongst the serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a High Court or from amongst persons possessing the qualifications of judges of a High Court. Ever since its establishment in 1980, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has been subjected of criticism and controversy in the society. Created as an Islamisation measure by the military regime and afterwards sheltered under the divisive 8th Amendment, its challengers question the very motivation and efficacy of this institution. It is stated that this court only copies the functions of the superior courts while functioning as a check on the sovereignty of Parliament. The composition of the court, particularly the mode of appointment of its judges and the uncertainty of their term, is taken exception to, and it is assumed, that this court does not entirely meets the principle prescribed for the independence of the judiciary. That is to say, it is not resistant to pressures and manipulation from the Executive.