Christian girl goes free finally
ISLAMABAD, Nov 20: The trial of the underage Christian girl charged with blasphemy, ended on Tuesday when the Islamabad High Court quashed the proceedings because the evidence against her was not enough to prove the charge.
Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman ruled that “continuation of proceedings of this case, to the extent of the accused, would be a futile exercise and great miscarriage of justice.”
That leaves the trial open for the cleric Khalid Jadoon who had allegedly planted fake evidence to strengthen the complaint one Malik Ummad had registered with the police in August against the 14-year-old girl with an underdeveloped mind.
Her case, and ordeal, attracted international attention and sympathy.
Advocate Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a member of the Punjab Assembly representing minorities, hailing the verdict said it would help project a soft image of Pakistan abroad and discourage the misuse of the blasphemy act for ulterior motives at home.
The girl got justice because of independent judiciary, media, intellectuals and the religious scholars who played a pivotal role in formation of public opinion, he added.
In his judgment, Chief Justice Rehman quoted the FIR in which Ummad claimed that when he intercepted the girl with a plastic bag near a garbage dump, she confessed she was carrying pages of a prayer book she had burnt.
The chief justice wrote: “In ordinary life, people of our society never bother to inquire from any person, and particularly from a minor girl what she is carrying in the ploythene bag or what she intends to do with it.”
He added: “Taking the same into consideration, it reflects the intentions of the complainant in doing so. A prudent man in our society would never bother to intercept a girl in such a situation. Therefore, it manifests that the complainant had some ulterior motives behind the same.”
Cleric Khalid Jadoon also expressed a motive when in a Friday sermon, before the August 17 incident in Mehra Jaffer locality, he called for the expulsion of the Christian community residing in the vicinity, added the judgment.
CJ Rehman noted that the most important factor for accusing any person of the offence under section 295-B of PPC is the intent of the person, which was missing in the prosecution case.
On the contrary, the prosecution agency has an eyewitness, Hafiz Malik Mohammad Zubair, who has asserted that the offence material has been planted by Khalid Jadoon, he added.
Although the accused girl could go to the sessions court for her acquittal under section 265-K, the chief justice said it would be a sheer abuse of process of court and tantamount to allow the use of court as tool for ulterior motive.
He ruled that a high court is competent, rather has inherent powers, to quash the FIR in appropriate cases and it is not necessary to direct the aggrieved person to first exhaust the alternate remedy.
The girl was arrested in the blasphemy case on August 17, 2012. She was granted bail on surety bonds of Rs1 million by an additional sessions judge of Islamabad on September 7.
The police submitted the challan in the case on September 22 to the sessions court which exonerated her from the charge.
According to the challan, the girl was mentally weak, uneducated and not able to distinguish between the papers of the holy book and ordinary literature.
During the examination of the evidence, the prosecution agency found ashes of firewood and dry grass along with burnt pages of the prayer book which meant the Christian family was using them in their stove and not deliberately showing disrespect to the pages.
Senior lawyer Mian Abdul Rauf recalled to Dawn that in February 1995 a division bench of Lahore High Court, comprising Justice Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti and Justice Chaudhry Khurshid Ahmad, had acquitted Salamat Masih 14, and Rehmat Masih, 46, in a blasphemy case.
Justice Bhatti was assassinated in his chambers at Lahore High Court in 1997, he said. However, now people are more mature and trust in court orders.