Islamabad High Court on Wednesday reserved its judgement on Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal against his death sentence in a case related to the murder of former governor Punjab Salman Taseer.
The two-member bench, comprising of Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, reserved the verdict following conclusion of arguments from the counsels of both parties.
During the hearing, Qadri’s lawyer Mian Nazir Akhtar argued that Pakistan was a Muslim country and not a western or secular one. He also said that to resolve a dispute between a person a state, Holy Quran is to be referred to.
Justice Shaukat Aziz said that the murder of the victim can not be justified. He also asked if terming a sacred law as a ‘black law’ could be considered blasphemy.
The prosecution argued that the allegations against the slain governor should have been tried in court and that the accused was in no way authorised to take the law in his own hands. He said that the extra-judicial killing was unconstitutional and since Qadri’s crime was known publicly, his appeal should be dismissed.
On February 10, Akhtar argued that murder-cum-terrorism case has been “illegally” instituted against his client because his client killed Taseer considering him a blasphemer.
“Extra judicial punishment has been awarded to my client while the external forces are still hatching conspiracies to get death penalty abolished. As per Islamic law, the punishment of slaying is prescribed for the blasphemer. Salman Taseer has been punished for what he did but my client has certain fundamental rights. The court is entitled to undo the punishment of my client,” he argued, justifying Qadri’s act.
The counsel maintained that Taseer started committing blasphemy in TV programs and called blasphemy law as black law. Qadri tolerated Taseer’s act for three months and later killed the governor.
“Only a sentence which is in conformity with Islamic teachings can be awarded to my client,” he pleaded.
Remarking on the counsel’s arguments, the court made it clear on both the parties that it is conducting the hearing of the case with open mind and on merit and there should be no room of any doubt.
“Mumtaz Qadri’s case will be decided on merit. We have stopped watching TV and reading news papers during the course of hearing so that the impression should not go that one-sided decision is being given.”
“The punishment for proselyte and Shatim-e-Rasool is prescribed and there is no room left for any delay or increase there in. But you are referring to former Punjab governor Salman Taseer as follower of Holy Prophet (PBUH). How can you prove Salman Taseer committed blasphemy?” Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said, inquiring if a proselyte remains an ‘ummati’ (follower).
Justice Siddiqui said that three days are given to the person who becomes proselyte. “If he does not seek forgiveness, he does not stay a follower.”
Petitioner’s counsel Akhtar could not complete his arguments and the court adjourned the hearing of the case till today.