The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday acquitted a man after 11 years, as it set aside life imprisonment awarded to him by a trial court on charges of blasphemy, saying that the case was just a plot.
No lawyer pleaded the convict’s case at the trial court stage. At an early stage, a state counsel pleaded the case but soon he stopped appearing on his behalf.
Finally, the accused decided to plead his case himself but he could not protect himself from the charges.
The convict had been in jail for 11 years. He wrote to the superintendent of the Sheikhupura District Jail for his appeal in the LHC. This time, state counsel Shabbir Ahmad Bodla Advocate was appointed as the state counsel.
According to the case details, on January 12, 2009, complainant Abdul Ghani, who was selling salty ‘Taangri’ on his pushcart in Mananwala, heard a woman’s voice from inside a house that a Nuskha (manuscript) of the Holy Quran was burning.
On that the complainant, his brothers and other residents entered the house and saw accused Liaquat Ali burning the Holy Quran on a gas stove. When they attempted to save the Holy Quran, the accused attacked them with a stick and injured them.
It is pertinent to mention that initially the injured, Abdul Ghafoor, brother of the complainant, had claimed his brother took him to the hospital, while the police had claimed that they took him to hospital.
Bodla had argued that no proper assistance was provided to the trial court. Only one out of total four witnesses from the police side were cross examined. Some prosecution witnesses could also not be cross-examined.
The mother of the convict was also not summoned to the courtroom for recording her statement, it was pointed out. Important features of the case were ignored owing to the absence of the lawyers. There was only the accused who was fighting his case but could not prove his case.
Justice Shehram Sarwar questioned how it was possible that a man enters the house and then the second one and then the third one. “What was recovered,” he further asked. The complainant’s counsel told the court that ‘Raakh’ (ashes) of the pages of the Holy Quran were collected.
Justice Shehram Sarwar observed that how it would be established that it was the Raakh (ashes) of the Holy Quran. “It seems that something is behind this matter,” Justice Shehram Sarwar observed. There are loopholes in the case and it did not seem to be premised upon substantial grounds.
The court allowed the convict’s appeal and the decision of the trial court was set aside.