IHC says it’s hearing Mumtaz Qadri’s case with open mind

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  • Court observes that even a proselyte was given three days for repentance while the counsel had to prove Salman Taseer committed blasphemy, adjourns hearing for a day

 

As the counsel for Mumtaz Qadri, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s murderer, Tuesday appealed the court for deciding the case in conformity with Islamic teachings, Islamabad High Court (IHC) made it clear that the case proceedings were being conducted with an open mind.

Following a heated session of arguments by Qadri’s counsel Mian Nazir Akhtar, an IHC division bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui adjourned the hearing by a day owing to non-completion of arguments by the counsel.

During the proceedings, 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.

Furthermore, Akhtar said Taseer defended and held meetings with Asia Bibi in jail who committed blasphemy. “He also wrote a letter to the then president for remission of sentence of Asia Bibi. Former governor insulted the court’s decision. The statement given by him caused unrest in the society. I say with regret that the then president Asif Ali Zardari took no legal steps against him. It was duty of the then government to prevent governor from committing blasphemy and demand apology from him,” he said, reminding the court that “blasphemy is an offence only punishable by death with no room for tauba (repentance)”.

Qadri’s counsel also said that once a cleric was even barred from getting a blasphemy case registered against the former governor.

“Had the government taken any action against Salman Taseer, this incident would not have taken place. My client took the step as per Islamic teachings and the court will also mete out treatment to my client as per Islamic teachings,” he maintained.

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 for one day.