SC Emphasises Equality Of All Religions Before Law
The Supreme Court has said that the constitution of Pakistan guarantees the freedom to every individual to hold and profess the faith of their choice, adding that all citizens were equal before the law regardless of the faith they hold.
The statement was made in the seven-page written order regarding the acquittal of blasphemy accused Wajeeh-ul-Hassan after 19 years of imprisonment.
The order stated, “Citizens regardless of religion are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection thereof and it is so guaranteed under the Constitution.”
The order also said that the 1973 constitution guarantees religious freedom to an individual with the words, “In his divine pursuits, he is sovereign and there is no intermediary between his soul and its Comforter.”
The court order stated that hence, Wajeeh-ul-Hassan’s declaration of faith was to be preferred over ‘divergent imputations’.
Wajeeh had been sentenced to death by a sessions court under Sections 295-A, 295-C and 298-A, of the Pakistan Penal Code in July 2002. In 2010, the penalty had been retained by a high court.
The convict had appealed in Supreme Court which gave leave to his plea in 2013. The court resumed the hearing of the case in 2019.
The order further stated that a criminal charge should be established on positive proof and not on perceptional or optical paradigms. It added, “The same is required in the present case; nonetheless, [such positive proof is] hopelessly out of sight.”
The court also observed that it would be unsafe to maintain conviction without the potential risk of error.
The court hence used the benefit of the doubt to set aside the judgement and acquit the appellant (Wajeeh ul Hassan) and further ordered the destruction of the entire derogatory material.”
The complainant in the case had received a series of letter containing blasphemous content, with one such letter having the copy of the National Identity card of Wajeeh-ul-Hassan attached to it.
The court in its order had also asked why the accused would attach his identity card to the blasphemous letter. It stated that even if the accused was on a suicidal course, he could simply have mentioned his identity in the letters.
Furthermore, the court said that Wajeeh-ul-Hassan’s plea of being a faithful Muslim could not be dismissed when there existed no evidence that would contradict his conviction in the injunctions of his faith.