PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has issued notices to the attorney general for Pakistan and provincial advocate general over a petition seeking orders for the federal and provincial governments to remove the option of punishment other than death penalty for blasphemy from the Pakistan Penal Code.

Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar observed that the points raised by the petitioner needed thorough consideration, so notices were issued to attorney general and provincial advocate general under Order XXVII of Civil Procedure Code.

The hearing will be fixed later.

The bench directed the attorney general and advocate general to file response to the petition filed by senior lawyer Asif Hameed Qureshi.

The petitioner contended that the question with regard to the validity of Section 295-C of the PPC to the extent of alternative punishment of life imprisonment had already been decided by the Federal Shariat Court in a case but the federal and provincial governments didn’t implement it.

He contended that the FSC had declared that alternative punishment of life imprisonment as provided in Section 295-C of the PPC was repugnant to the injunctions of Islam and therefore, the country’s president should take necessary action for the amendment of the law before Apr 30, 1991.

Asif Hameed said the judgment in question was challenged in the Supreme Appellate Court but was dismissed due to non-prosecution.

Petitioner insists Shariat Court’s verdict on matter not implemented in 30 years

He said it was matter of concern for the people that the words ‘or imprisonment for life’ in Section 295-Chad hadn’t been deleted from the PPC by lawmakers despite the passage of three decades.

The petitioner claimed that he had also made a request to the federal law minister through a letter regarding the matter under consideration but no response had been given so far.

He said that while there was no doubt that the words ‘or imprisonment for life’ had lost efficacy with effect from Apr 30, 1991, the legal position had not been explained in the statute.

The petitioner added that the students of law and practicing lawyers usually read the same provisions in total isolation to the clear directions of the FSC and therefore, it was necessary to delete those words from the PPC.

The respondents in the petition are the federation of Pakistan through law secretary, federal law minister, KP governor and its chief minister, KP Assembly through its secretary, provincial law minister, provincial chief secretary and law secretary, and KP Assembly’s speaker.

The petitioner said under Article 227 of the Constitution, it was the responsibility of the respondents to bring all existing laws in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2021

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