The Supreme Court on Monday overturned an order by the Balochistan High Court and exonerated an accused facing life imprisonment on allegations of desecrating the Holy Quran.

“The high court as well as the lower court should not have punished the accused since the allegations levelled against him did not fulfil the requirement of the blasphemy laws under Section 295(b) of the Pakistan Penal Code,” said Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who was heading a three member Supreme Court bench.

Justice Khosa added that neither the allegations were proved nor any evidence was truly appreciated.

The bench had taken up an appeal by Khuda Bakhsh against the BHC’s upholding of life imprisonment earlier awarded by a sessions court.

Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, another member of the bench, also asked the government to make policies regarding old newspapers which have verses from the Holy Quran printed, in order to ensure the holy scriptures are not desecrated.

The apex court on the occasion regretted that the high court and the trial court awarded life imprisonment without realising that the allegation of burning the Holy Quran was never proved, as punishment to any offence should be handed down after the offence has been established in accordance with the law.

Justice Khosa also asked on the occasion whether anyone had an idea where newspapers with verses from the Holy Quran went after being read.

Justice Khan said that sometimes writings in Arabic were misconstrued as the holy scriptures and it may have transpired that the accused learnt from his elders to burn them.

“In our religion there is no room for those who are guilty of desecrating the Holy Quran but an innocent cannot be awarded life imprisonment merely on the basis of allegation,” said the judge.

Khuda Bux was arrested in district Naseerabad of Balochistan for allegedly burning the pages from the Holy Quran and then throwing them into a sewer drain. He was imprisoned for four years and eight months.