The Supreme Court yesterday exonerated a blasphemy accused facing life imprisonment on allegations of desecrating the Holy Quran.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Qazi Faez Isa issued the order after hearing the prosecution and defendant's lawyer.

The defendant's lawyer told the court that her client had been accused of burning pages of the holy book.

The lawyer also informed the bench that the defendant was a drug addict residing in Multan in 2006, when the incident allegedly took place.

The counsel explained that police had found no trace of burnt pages of the Holy Quran at the site of the incident.

The lawyer also argued that while the incident allegedly took place inside the accused's house, the accused had unlawfully been booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, besides Sections 342 and 395-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

After examining the record and hearing the defendant's arguments, the court ruled that the prosecution's version, prima facie, appeared to be false.

It noted that the complainant may even have brought previously burnt pages of the Holy Quran to the accused's house in a bid to influence the case.

Police itself did not collect evidence from the site, the court observed, adding that a matchbox was instead provided to the police by the complainant. The prosecution did not check whether the matchbox was new or used, the court said.

The apex court also stated that the lower courts appeared to have not conducted a fair trial of the case.

The bench inquired why sections pertaining to terrorism were added to the charges against the accused. 

The court subsequently issued the order to absolve the defendant of all charges, citing a lack of substantial and credible evidence.