SC orders compensation for victims of Aasia Bibi verdict protests within one month


— CJP says govt had ‘no plans’ to compensate the loss if court hadn’t taken up case


LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday ordered the federal and provincial governments to compensate the victims of vandalism following the acquittal of Christian blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi, within one month.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo motu case and said that if the court had not taken up the matter, the government had no plans to compensate the loss.

On October 31, the apex court acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who was facing a death sentence for blasphemy and ordered to release her from prison immediately.

“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of the high court, as well as trial court, is reversed. Her conviction is set aside,” said CJP in the ruling.

The top judge announced, “Aasia is to be set free if she is not wanted in any other case.”

Aasia Bibi was convicted and sentenced to hang by a trial court in 2010. In, 2014, Lahore High Court (LHC) had upheld the verdict.

Following the acquittal verdict, protests had erupted in several cities.

Enraged masses had blocked several routes across the country for two days, while at some places they had also set fire to vehicles. The demonstrations saw the closure of schools, colleges and universities, as well as cancellation of examinations.

The government and the protesters from different religious groups, led by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Rizvi, reached an agreement two days later on November 2.

The law enforcement agencies had rounded up around 1,800 individuals by Monday night. The Ministry of Interior had said that the arrestees had been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Although the government decided to take action against miscreants involved in vandalism, torture and arson during the demonstrations across the country, it later showed leniency by dropping the cases against the TLP workers.