KARACHI: A sessions court on Thursday sentenced a man to life imprisonment under the blasphemy law.

Malik Mohammad Farooq was found guilty of tearing up a banner which was inscribed with the name of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Kalma Tayyaba, Darood Sharif and a picture of Kaaba in January 2013 in Qayyumabad. The court acquitted co-accused for want of evidence.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (east) Nadeem Ahmed Khan also imposed a fine of Rs50,000 and in case of non-payment the convict would have to undergo an additional six-month imprisonment.

The court in its verdict observed that three key prosecution witnesses, including the complainant, categorically deposed against accused Farooq and despite being subjected to lengthy cross-examination their evidence remained unshaken.

The accused took the plea in his defence that he was framed in the case since he had a dispute with the management of a mosque adjacent to his shop. However, the court ruled that the accused did not produce any evidence to substantiate his claim.

The case of the co-accused was on a different footing as two of the three witnesses did not say anything about his involvement and the complainant testified that the area people had informed him that the co-accused escaped after committing the offence from the place of the incident at that time.

The court further said that the complainant also deposed that he did not see the co-accused directly and was not sure about his involvement in the case. Therefore, the prosecution failed to establish its case against the co-accused, the verdict added.

According to the prosecution, the main accused and complainant Syed Tahir Hussain Shah had shops adjacent to a mosque in Qayyumabad and on Jan 16, 2013 the accused along with his friend had torn up a banner and thrown it in a dustbin. The area people captured Farooq, beat him up and handed him over to police along with the banner while the co-accused managed to escape. Later he was also arrested, it added.

A case was registered under Section 295-C (use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Korangi Industrial Area police station.