LAHORE: The Punjab prosecution department, in association with the home and police departments, has shortlisted 50 cases currently under trial in courts to speedily decide the fate of alleged blasphemers who, what the government claims, are ‘victimised’ by complainants.

The cases have been picked from 262 cases in different courts of the province from 2010 to date.

The suspects, who are all Muslims booked under four sections of Chapter XV (of offences relating to religion) of the Pakistan Penal Code, are languishing in jails and are not being convicted because of lack of evidence, poor evidence, and non-availability of their counsel.

Take a look: Timeline: Accused under the Blasphemy Law

A high-powered committee, headed by provincial secretary prosecution Rana Maqbool, sat fourth time a couple of days back since its constitution by the provincial government in Jan 2015 to discuss the modalities to pursue cases on a fast track basis and take all the religious schools of thought into confidence to avoid any backlash following release of the suspects.


50 cases shortlisted for speedy trial


The establishment of the committee followed the assassination of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman in Multan in May last year who was pleading the case of a blasphemy accused.

Police sources, associated with the outcome of the meetings, told Dawn on Monday that the participants in the meeting were of the view the provincial government would ‘defend’ the arrested suspects in courts as blasphemy accused hardly got a lawyer to defend his/her case because of societal pressures and threats.

They said only those cases had been picked in the first phase which, according to the committee, were genuine and the accused were victimised, adding some of the arrested accused upon whom doubts prevailed might also be medically examined to determine their mental health.

The sources said the committee as empowered by the government was mulling to get decree from religious scholars of all schools of thought to avoid reaction. They said that in the last meeting which took place on Monday it was decided to increase number of cases for speedy trial and initiate judicial process in near future.

They said a team of police officials, associated with the process, would meet additional prosecutor general Punjab on Tuesday (today) to discuss start of trials.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
Updated 18 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

It just wants to take the easy route and enjoy the ride for however long it is in power.
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
Updated 19 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

The staggering rejection rates underscore systemic biases in the largely non-transparent visa approval process.
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...