Junaid Hafeez Case Judgment: The Judge Didn't Even Try To Conceal His Bias

"The judge has explained the quantum of punishment for committing blasphemy in the whole judgment, instead of explaining the quantum of the evidence required for awarding the death sentence", writes Bakhtavar Jaffri.

Our law of evidence is based on the principle that an accused is an innocent child of law until proved guilty. And in a criminal case, the case should be proved beyond the shadow of doubt for awarding a sentence to the accused. The burden to prove the facts of a case is on the prosecution as it is the leading rule of the evidence, “prosecution has to stand on its own feet.” But unfortunately in Junaid Hafeez case, all these principles are ignored by the Sessions Court of Multan.

The prosecution alleged that Junaid Hafeez had some blasphemous posts on his social media group and page, and few blasphemous pamphlets were circulated in BZU, with his name on them.

The prosecution tried establishing the whole case on the oral evidence of the people, having personal clashes with the accused, and failed to establish that the alleged social media accounts actually belonged to the accused; no details were provided regarding the IP address of the accounts.

There were improvements in the statements of the witnesses that were not taken into account. Despite the fact that the accused had complained of the death threats and threatening messages, prior to the case, no action was taken by the authorities against the harassers. Accused claimed that his social media accounts were hacked several times and he was not even using social media at the time when the offence was committed, but his plea was rejected, without any investigation. The pamphlets were not even proved to be written or circulated by the accused. It was clearly evident from the facts of the case and the defense argues that the prosecution witnesses and complainants had the personal grudges with the accused.
The alarming fact about the case is that the court has itself admitted the presence of the discrepancies in the prosecution evidence in Para 86 of the judgment. The learned judge quoted that the technicalities should not be given much weight and the court should have a dynamic approach while doing justice, but there is not even a trace of justice visible in the judgment.

In para 88 of the judgment, the court even admitted the defect in the investigation of the case and asserted that the defect in the investigation is no ground for acquittal, and case should be decided on merit.

The irony is that the case is decided on everything, but the merits. The biased approach of the court is evident from the paras 86, 88 and 89 of the judgment. The wording of the judgment shows that Junaid Hafeez was given death sentence because the case, in which he was booked, was of a very sensitive nature, not because it was proved beyond the reasonable doubt against him.

The judge has explained the quantum of punishment for committing blasphemy in the whole judgment, instead of explaining the quantum of the evidence required for awarding the death sentence.

Blasphemy is indeed a serious crime, but the misuse of blasphemy laws is becoming a business of the day in Pakistan. I belong to a Sayed Family and I have studied Shariah in detail, but I could not find even a single authentic narration to punish someone without any evidence.

Junaid Hafeez is one of the exceptional brains of our country but was trapped in a fake blasphemy case. His first counsel was killed by unknown persons, and his current counsel is facing serious threats to his life. It shows how extremism is rising day by day, and how religion is being misused by a few religious bigots.

It is high time we understood the problem and took a step to save our future generations from the wave of this extremism. The judgment in Junaid Hafeez case is a question mark on the credibility of our courts. It is not prosecution. It is indeed persecution and justice should be served.

The author is a Criminal lawyer, based in Gujrat. LL.B gold medallist from University of Gujrat, LL.M international law from international Islamic University, advocate high court, president Street Law Clinic society, legal researcher and Max Planck Alumnus.