Ex-minister files review plea in SC

ISLAMABAD – Former Minister for Punjab Prisons Abdul Ghafoor on Thursday moved a review petition against the Supreme Court judgment wherein a Christian Pakistani woman Aasia Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy charges.

Ghafoor, who remained the Punjab prisons minister from 2008 to 2012 and former leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab chapter, filed the review petition through his counsel Advocate Aftab Bajwa.

The review petition requested the top court to issue directions to Interior Ministry for placing the name of Aasia Bibi on the Exit Control List (ECL). Aasia Bibi is currently in Pakistan. However, her lawyer Advocate Saiful Malook left the country in the backdrop of life threats. However, he will return to Pakistan in case the review petition will be fixed.

Aasia Bibi, Interior Ministry and the State are respondents in the review petition. It is the second review petition in the top court after the review petition of Qari Saalim.

On October 31, the top court allowing the appeal of Aasia Bibi had set aside the verdict of Lahore High Court (LHC), wherein it had upheld the order orders of Trial Court.

The appeal was heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

“Consequently, the conviction, as also the sentence of death awarded to the appellant (Aasia Bibi), is set aside and she is acquitted of the charge. The SC had ordered her release from jail forthwith if not required in any other criminal case. 

As soon as the said judgment was announced, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) brought the country into a virtual standstill as people were made hostage in the garb of protest against the top court’s decision. Armed hooligans of TLP blocked public highways, roads and motorways and tortured members of law enforcement agencies as well as ordinary citizens. Women and children were made to suffer the ordeal while the Government remained a silent spectator to the entire fiasco. Public and private property worth billions of rupees was also damaged.

During three days of violent protests, central leadership of TLP vociferously spitted venom against the judges of top court and the Chief of Army Staff.  TLP’s top tier including Khadim Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri are currently in protective custody of 30 days.

The review petition stated that the prosecution proved its case through independent and confidence inspiring evidence. 

It added that Aasia confessed her guilt and due to this reason the prosecution witnesses were not cross-examined during the trial which fact is sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused. 

“During the trial, the accused did not utter a single word in her defence and she was rightly convicted and sentenced by the trial court,” the review stated adding that the prosecution has proved its case through direct evidence recorded by the prosecution witnesses.

“Presence of accused and the eye witnesses in the Falsa field is not denied by the accused herself and there is no contradiction in the statement of prosecution witnesses. The trial court rightly convicted and sentenced the accused respondent which order was upheld by the Lahore High Court,” it further added.

The counsel in the petition further stated that the other grounds will be raised at the time of arguments.

The petition prayed that the top court’s earlier order be reviewed and sentence awarded to Aasia Bibi by the trial court may be maintained.

It is also prayed that a direction be issued to the interior ministry to take strict action against the protestors and save the lives and properties of the innocent people of Pakistan.

 

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