After reading the Supreme Court's verdict in Asia Bibi case that saw the charges on her eventually dismissed and set her free, I have summarized the 57 page verdict in few points.

Brief Background:

It all started in 2009 when the accused woman (Asia bibi) had war of words with her female colleagues while harvesting berries. The reason behind this argument was religious discrimination as she was criticized on that occasion for taking part in daily life activities performed there. Consequently, she was accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Following the event, in 2010 she was sentenced to death by hanging after she was proved guilty by the court. Things got worse when Lahore High Court upheld the sentence as a result of appeal filed by her against the verdict. Fortunately, knocking the last door left to knock turned out to be the crucial turning point. An appeal in Supreme Court proved to be a breakthrough.

A three-judge special bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel heard Bibi's 2014 appeal against her conviction and death sentence under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

SC Verdict:

  • The verdict states that the appeal can not be overlooked by just relying on the previous legal actions taken in this regard but it has to be reconsidered since it is a matter of life and death of a woman.
  • Accused has stated that following the heated exchange of words, the other woman along with the applicant accused her of blasphemy (which she claimed to be a false accusation).
  • Further, it states that the statement earlier issued by Asia bibi was in the presence of thousands of people around her. Therefore, her statement came in a situation where she felt insecure, which means that this statement was not enough to sentence her to death.
  • Moreover, An FIR was lodged five days after the incident. This makes the accusations more doubtful as many crucial requirements were also not fulfilled (as per the verdict).
  • This delay and unfulfillment of basic legal requirements are the main points giving the accused, benefit of doubt.
  • Despite the claim that the event took place in a public gathering, except the two ladies involved in the case, nobody else showed up as a witness. (Once again, benefit of doubt directly benefiting the accused).
  • During interrogation, the statements issued by each of the witnesses, were contradictory to the statements previously issued by themselves. (Benefit of doubt benefits the accused).
  • However, there are few convincing factors taken into consideration that forced the Apex Court to validate the punishment but they were not enough to prove the accused guilty.
  • 'A proof beyond reasonable doubt' (Presumption of innocence). Prosecution couldn't present enough proofs to prove their claims, at the same time accused is considered innocent as she is not proven guilty.

Justice Nisar while reading out the verdict said, "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." 

The judgment added, "Asia Bibi be released immediately if not involved in any other case."

These statements sum up the verdict delivered yesterday.