ISLAMABAD: Justice Asif Saeed Khosa of the Supreme Court of Pakistan said on Monday that criticism of the blasphemy law did not amount to blasphemy.
The judge gave the remarks while hearing the appeal by Mumtaz Qadri — the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer — against his death penalty.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa adjourned the hearing till tomorrow when Qadri’s counsel Justice retired Nazir Akhter is expected to continue his arguments.
During today's hearing the bench observed that the entire argument of Qadri’s counsel would be rendered irrelevant if it is not established that then governor Taseer had committed blasphemy.
Justice Khosa in his remarks said that criticising a law does not amount to blasphemy and the press clippings presented in court do not provide sufficient evidence to maintain that the former governor had committed blasphemy.
Qadri, a former commando of Punjab police’s Elite Force, was sentenced to death for assassinating former Punjab governor Salman Taseer in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market. Qadri said he killed Taseer over the politician's vocal opposition to blasphemy laws of the country.
He had confessed to shooting Taseer dead outside an upmarket coffee shop close to the latter's residence in Islamabad on Jan 4.
Following the sentencing, Qadri's counsels had challenged the ATC's decision through two applications the same month.
The first petition had demanded that Qadri's death sentence should be quashed and the second asked for Section 7 of the ATA to be declared void from the sentencing.
In its ruling on the appeal, the IHC rejected Qadri's application against his death sentence under the PPC but accepted his application to void ATA's Section 7.
Qadri's counsels the challenged IHC's decision to uphold his death penalty in the Supreme Court.