ISLAMABAD: A judge of the Supreme Court regretted on Tuesday the way members of the Islamabad Bar Council behaved during their strike against the apex court judgment in a case about hanging of Mumtaz Qadri.

“The writ of the government has been eroded,” observed Justice Dost Mohammad Khan. He said that everybody witnessed what the bar lawyers, who always advocated upholding of the constitution and the law when they wore black coats, had done during the strike. “The lawyers protested even against the judgment of the Supreme Court,” he regretted.

He was referring to the March 2 strike by the Islamabad Bar Council against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, an Elite Force commando who had assassinated former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011 for alleged blasphemy.

Qadri was hanged in Rawalpindi’s Adiyala jail on Feb 29 after the Supreme Court had on Oct 7, 2015, restored the Oct 1, 2011, death sentence awarded to him by an anti-terrorism court.

Justice Dost Mohammad expressed his displeasure during the hearing by a three-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmad, of bail petitions of Adnan Mushtaq, Imran Nazeer and Mohammad Mansha, who were detained by police for torching an Ahmadi place of worship — Bait-ul-Zikr — in Kala Gujran, Jhelum, on Nov 21, 2015.

The place was torched by an enraged mob which earlier set a chipboard factory on fire for alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by the owner and workers of the factory.

During the proceedings, Justice Gulzar regretted that the allegations being faced by the petitioners were of a serious nature rather a crime against the state.

Adnan Mushtaq, who was represented by Advocate Ansar Nawaz Mirza, had challenged the rejection of his bail plea by the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court on Jan 20. In its judgment, the high court said the petitioner was part of the mob which had set ablaze the Ahmadi place of worship and the chipboard factory owned by the complainant belonging to the Ahmadi community.

“Such incidents are on the rise in our society day by day, which must be curbed with an iron hand as every person in our country is free to adopt any religion and sect of his choice, which of course is guaranteed by the constitution,” the high court had observed while dismissing the bail petition.

Adnan Mushtaq argued before the Supreme Court that he had never been nominated in an FIR, but in a supplementary statement of the complainant without disclosing any source. Even the supplementary statement was silent about any role played by him in the arson, the petitioner said, adding that the prosecution was also without any cogent evidence to connect him to the commission of the offence.

Otherwise, he argued, the prosecution story was not probable and plausible to a prudent mind that out of a mob of 400 to 500 people, the investigators and witnesses were able to identify him as one of the attackers.

But Additional Prosecutor General Chaudhry Zubair Farooq insisted that the three accused, along with several unknown persons, had committed the offence of setting ablaze the place of worship.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2016

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