Chief Justice Saqib Nisar’s arguments for Asia Bibi’s acquittal
Editorial Note: Mujahid Khattak is a senior journalist associated with Hum News. The following arguments have been cited by him in a Facebook post in Urdu and we are translating them here for the convenience of the readers.
The reasons Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has authored in his judgment that on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi in a 9-year-old blasphemy case are as follows:
1 – The incident took place on June 14, 2009 but the FIR was registered five days later on June 19, which weakened the case.
2 – The eyewitnesses Maafia Bibi and Asma Bibi have testified that Asia Bibi committed blasphemy in their presence. According to them there were 25 to 35 women present on the occasion but none came forward to testify against Asia in this case.
3 – Both the women said that they hadn’t had any clash with Asia Bibi on the issue of water but other witnesses confirmed that such a fight did take place.
Read the full judgment here: Asia Bibi acquittal verdict
4 – The most important point was that the witnesses’ accounts differed from each other. When Asia Bibi’s issue became known to the locals, a public gathering was called where she was told to confess to her crime. It is pertinent to mention that the lower courts had convicted her based on the same confession, which is why this public gathering is of utmost importance. One witness said that the gathering was attended by some 100 people, another said that it was attended by around a thousand people. The third one said there were 2000 people present while the fourth one stated the number to be between 200 to 250. These varying statements created doubts and in every law around the world, the benefit of the doubt goes to the suspect.
5 – One of the witnesses said that the public gathering took place at Mukhtar Ahmad’s home. The second one said it took place at Abdul Sattar’s home. Third one said it was held at Rana Razzaq’s house while the fourth one told that it took place at Haji Ali Ahmad’s place.
6 – The accounts also varied on the issue of Asia Bibi’s presence at the gathering. One said that he didn’t remember who had brought Asia Bibi to that gathering. Another one said that she had come by foot while the third one stated she came with someone on a motorbike.
7 – The statements also differed on the issue of time and duration of this gathering.
8 – The statements of sub-inspector Muhammad Arshad at the time of Asia’s arrest also did not match each other.
9 – The suspect was forced to confess to the crime at a gathering where hundreds of people were present and wanted to kill her. Such a statement bore no legal standing. It could neither be termed voluntary confession nor could such a confession be acceptable for a sentence as serious as death.
10 – In the statement that Asia Bibi legally submitted, she expressed utmost respect for the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and Qur’an and also said that she could say it on an oath on Holy Bible before the investigative officer in order to prove her innocence but the investigative officer did not allow her to do so.