ISLAMABAD - “A killer must be treated as per law even if he is a judge of the court,” remarked Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday while hearing Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal against his conviction in former governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer murder case.

“A sessions court judge may hand over death sentence but he is not even allowed to touch the accused. How the court can overlook oath which a cop (Qadri) took for his duty under which he shall not be allowed to kill a person on his own will, hence it is the court’s responsibility to take action if there is any violation of law,” a two-member bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui remarked while hearing of Mumtaz Qadri’s petition against his death sentence awarded by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Taseer murder case.

During the course of proceeding, the bench said that there is a blasphemy law in the country under which a blasphemer is punished; if Taseer was blasphemer then plaintiff (Qadri) should have come in courts instead of killing him.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said, “The court would see the rules instead of emotions. If a person violates rules during his duty then he shall be treated as per law.”

Justice (Retd) Nazir Akhtar, counsel for Qadri, pleaded that in case of extraordinary circumstances one could kill a person, adding that emotions and believes of  Muslims are being damaged on the pretext of freedom of speech but no one ever raised voice against  Holocaust. Qadri is an honest, truth worthy person, having a good record, not even a single complain was raised against him during his service, he added.

The IHC bench questioned the counsel of Mumtaz Qadri whether terming manmade blasphemy law as ‘black law’ was an act of blasphemy. The bench also read out a statement of slain Salman Taseer against the blasphemy law where he termed it as ‘black law’.

Advocate Nazeer Akhtar forwarding arguments said that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) himself dispatched teams to punish the blasphemers.

The bench, however, remarked that the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was also exercising the judicial powers in addition to the administration, adding that it was in the period of Caliph Umer (RA) when the judicial system was established separately.

Advocate Nazeer Akhtar argued that as per his research in this matter, as many as 115 cases deaths have been reported over the blasphemy since 14th Century. It included the execution of Christians who had been executed in the name of religion in the Europe as well, he pointed out.

He further said that the West has double standard. On one hand nobody could raise his voice about the Holocaust but the people there under the pretext of freedom of expression hurt feelings of thousands of Muslims. Justice Qureshi said that the West has laws that nobody could question the holocaust.

Advocate Nazeer Akhtar said that his client Mumtaz Qadri is an honest man and evidence doesn’t prove him guilty. His duty record is commendable and he as police commando of Elite Force has performed duties with many other VIPs as well.

Justice Siddiqui in the bench said, “For instance if we do concede to your arguments then what will we do to the oath of a police personal that he swears after becoming part of the organization?” Justice Siddiqui said that there is a blasphemy law in the country and nobody is allowed to take law into hands.

“When the deceased Salman Taseer had pronounced the blasphemy law as black law then what indigenous law was applicable in his case?” Justice Siddiqui posed a question to the Qadri’s legal counsel.

Advocate Nazeer Akhtar replied that blasphemy law was applicable. At this juncture Justice Siddiqui remarked, “The law was there in the country but your client took law into his hands and assassinated the former governor. Whether we should decide this matter according to the sentiments and emotions or as per law?”

Later, the bench adjourned further hearing till February 10 and allowed Justice Nazir Akhtar to continue his arguments on the next date of hearing.

Earlier, an anti-terrorism court had awarded two times death penalty to Mumtaz Qadri on October 1, 2011 for assassinating Taseer on January 4, 2011 at Kohsar Market in Islamabad. Mumtaz Qadri had earlier confessed in the court that he had killed Taseer for his blasphemous statements.

Then Qadri through his counsel filed an appeal in the IHC and the court had stayed the execution of Qadri. Since then the appeal of Qadri against his conviction had been pending adjudication.