LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ruled that a person cannot be prosecuted for what he sees in his dreams or for sharing with others his thoughts, visions or emotions he has during those times.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh issued the ruling quashing a first information report (FIR) registered under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by the Saddar Police Station of Mianwali against the petitioner.

The complainant, an ex-member of the Mianwali district council, had alleged in August 2021 that the petitioner held sacrilegious beliefs and he began propagating them to the general public. He alleged that the petitioner claimed that he could fly and see Allah and various companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his dreams.

The complainant further alleged that the petitioner had made similar statements before a crowd where two prosecution witnesses were also present. He claimed that such propagation hurt the community’s religious feelings and was likely to incite violence.

Quashes FIR registered against a Mianwali man

A counsel for the petitioner argued that the first information report (FIR) was mala fide and politically motivated. He said it did not state what blasphemous notions the petitioner held and when he expressed them. The only specific allegation against the petitioner was that he told a group of people about his dreams and claimed to have seen God and certain holy personages “Such narration is not an offence under Section 295-A PPC,” the counsel added.

Opposing the petition, the counsel for the complainant adopted arguments of the law officer who submitted that the petitioner’s thoughts and beliefs were blasphemous and sinful and the law prohibited their expression. He contended that the petitioner deliberately and maliciously concocted false stories, which offended other people’s religious feelings.

Before discussing the merits of the case, Justice Sheikh looked into the offence under Section 295-A of the PPC and observed that in an examination of the FIR, “we find that the offence under section 295-A PPC is not made out”. He noted that there was no allegation that the petitioner did anything to offend any group of people or insult their religion or religious beliefs.

The judge also reviewed Section 298 of the PPC (uttering words etc with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) and found that it does not apply to the facts and circumstances of the present case.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the petitioner intended to offend or harm the religious sensibilities of the complainant or any other person with his statements,” the judge maintained.

Justice Sheikh noted that the petitioner was facing prosecution for claiming that he could fly and for having frequent dreams in which he saw God and some holy figures.

Before concluding his judgment, the judge noted that it frequently happened that those accused of blasphemy had a mental condition.

The judge also referred to an article, “Blasphemy laws and mental illness in Pakistan” by author Muzaffar Husain wherein he said the people suffering from diseases such as mania and schizophrenia might lack behavioural constraints and understanding or exhibited grandiose and strange delusional notions.

The judge says the law in Pakistan protects the people with mental illnesses or impairments as Section 464 CrPC. ordains that a person of “unsound mind” who is incapable of assisting in his own defence cannot be tried.

Allowing the petition against the FIR, Justice Sheikh also directed the LHC registrar to send a copy of his judgment to the Punjab inspector general of police to take appropriate steps to ensure that the investigating officers follow the instructions.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2022

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