ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has summoned Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan to appear before its three-member bench on Monday in response to the Punjab government’s request for a review of the top court’s Feb 6 decision.

That judgement, Mubarak Ahmad Sani vs The State, etc., sparked a controversy and malicious campaign against Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

On Friday, the three-judge bench — headed by Justice Isa and also including Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan — took up the review petition immediately after its submission on Friday.

The review petition was filed after Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi regretted on Thursday that certain elements were exploiting the Feb 6 decision to create unrest and anarchy.

Review petition says top court’s finding in Para 9 of judgement needs to be modified

He urged the provincial authorities to petition the apex court for reconsideration.

On Friday, the Supreme Court also issued notices to respondents, namely Mubarik Ahmad Sani and the secretary general of the Khatam-i-Nabuwat Forum Pakistan, Muhammad Hassan Muaviya.

The review petition, filed on behalf of Additional Prosecutor General Punjab Ahmad Raza Gilani, insisted that the finding of the Supreme Court’s Feb 6 verdict in Paragraph 9 regarding Article 20 of the Constitution needed to be modified to the extent that the rights of the citizens as envisaged under the constitutional provision were not absolute and instead subject to law, public order and morality.

Article 20, titled ‘Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions’, says, “Subject to law, public order and morality: (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.”

In Paragraph 9 of the judgement under review, the Supreme Court highlighted that the “principle of there being no compulsion in religion mentioned in the Holy Quran is enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right”.

The provincial government argued that it was aggrieved by the judgement and sought a review of the findings of the court since the conclusions were based on erroneous assumptions of the material facts, misreading of the records and without adverting to the points of law raised and agitated before the apex court.

Those errors are manifest and apparent on the face of the record, the review petition contended, adding that these have resulted in a grave miscarriage of justice.

The review petition explained that respondent Mubarak Ahmad Sani was an accused of the case FIR No. 661 of Dec 6, 2022, registered under

Sections 295-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) as well as Section 9(1A) of the Punjab Holy Quran (Printing and Recording) Act 2011 at Chenab Nagar Police Station in the Chiniot district.

On June 24 last year, the trial court framed charges against the accused under these three sections. Subsequently, the accused filed an application before the trial court to get the charges deleted or altered, but the court dismissed his plea on Sept 25.

The accused assailed the trial court order before the Lahore High Court, which also dismissed his appeal on Oct 16.

The accused then challenged the high court’s orders through a criminal petition before the Supreme Court, which was allowed on Feb 6.

Now, the Punjab government has sought modification of the judgement under review.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024

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