PESHAWAR: A local court has awarded five years imprisonment and Rs520,000 fine to a man after convicting him for insulting religious beliefs around two years ago.

However, the additional district and session judges acquitted him on a blasphemy charge under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The convict was sentenced under Section 295-A (insulting religious beliefs) and 298 (deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) of the PPC.

The court handed down five years rigorous imprisonment and Rs20,000 fine to him under the PPC’s Section 295-A and one-year imprisonment and Rs500,000 fine under Section 298.

Peshawar court awards five years imprisonment, Rs0.52m fine to him

It declared that both sentences would run concurrently.

The accused was also provided benefit of section 382-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure under which his period of detention prior to his conviction would be counted in his prison term.

The accused, who belonged to the Ahmadi community, was named in an FIR registered by the Pandu police station on Sept 10, 20220, under Section 295-C of the PPC.

The complainant in the case was the accused’s neighbour, who was 15 on the day of the incident on Sept 8, 2020.

The complainant, who was accompanied by his father, had told the police that he was on the way to home when he saw a wall poster with the announcement about the Khatam-i-Nabuwat Conference.

He had claimed that he shouted the slogan of ‘Khatam-i-Nabuwat Zindabad’ prompting the accused, who was present there, to make abusive utterances.

The accused, who was around 21, had denied the charges and insisted that he was booked on “mala fide grounds.”

His counsel contended that one of the prosecution witnesses in the case, who was a local resident, had purchased the house of the accused’s family after the incident, showing that the accused was falsely implicated in the case to force them to sell out that property.

He added that the FIR was registered two days later showing that the complainant, his father and other people had got that done after proper planning.

The lawyer contended that the complainant had levelled false allegations against his client.

The complainant’s counsel rejected those arguments and claimed that the complainant and his father had visited several religious scholars to seek their guidance on whether the act of the accused was tantamount to committing blasphemy and as those scholars accepted their contention, the latter visited the police station for the FIR’s registration.

He contended that the house in question was purchased by one of the accused’s neighbours as after the incident, the accused’s family couldn’t continue living in the locality fearing for their lives and voluntarily sold it out.

The court disagreed with the defence counsel’s assertion that the case was registered to purchase the house of the accused’s family.

It observed that the accused’s family had been living in the area for 35 years and no one ever tried to purchase its house and in fact, it had good relationship with all neighbours.

The court observed that the contents of the complainant’s application did not convey specific blasphemy charge in the case.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022

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