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Lahore woman sentenced to death for blasphemy

The prosecution presented 11 witnesses

SAMAA | and - Posted: Sep 27, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA | and
Posted: Sep 27, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

Photo: File

A lower court in Lahore has sentenced a woman to death on charges of committing blasphemy.

The court has also fined the convict Rs50,000.

Additional Sessions Judge Mansoor Qureshi announced the verdict after the trial came to an end on Monday.

The prosecution presented 11 witnesses against the accused Salma Tanveer, who is a resident of Lahore.

Accusations against Salma Tanveer

A case against Salma Tanveer was registered at Nishtar Colony Police Station in 2013.

The court record shows that the FIR was lodged by the prayer leader (Khateeb) of Jamia Masjid Anwar-e-Madina in the Bahadurabad neighbourhood of Lahore. The prayer leader Qari Iftikhar Ahmad Raza alleged that Salma Tanveer, principal of a school, had published and distributed pamphlets in the area “whereby she denied khatam-e-nubuwat of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).”

The FIR alleged that the woman had used derogatory remarks and claimed “her own nubuwat,” according to the court record.

Plea by the defence

The defence pleaded in court that Tanveer had “lost her mental balance” and that she should not be prosecuted as the country’s law absolved people with mental insanity from criminal responsibility.

The court noted that a diagnosis to ascertain the mental health of the accused performed one month after the alleged blasphemous act did “not at all show that the accused was incapable of knowing the nature of the alleged act.”

The woman also underwent an examination by a medical board of the Punjab Institute of Mental Health (PIMH) Lahore.

The court said the PIMH board which declared that she was “suffering from Schizoaffective Disorder” and “unfit to stand trial at present” had examined the accused “after more than one year from the occurrence” of the crime.

The court had postponed the trial in 2015 after the report from the PIMH board and resumed it only when another report by the same board in 2019 declared Tanveer fit to stand trial.

In the verdict, the court ruled that Tanveer’s “abnormality… falls short of legal insanity.”

What happens next

Tanveer was already in judicial custody and the court has handed her over to the jail authorities to execute the sentence.

However, the death sentence in the case cannot be executed before the Lahore High Court confirms it, the verdict says.

The court has informed Tanveer that she can file an appeal against the verdict before the high court within seven days.

Blasphemy law in Pakistan

Under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) anyone who uses derogatory remarks in respect of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is punishable by death.

Section 295-C of the PPC reads, “Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

No one has ever been executed under the blasphemy law in Pakistan as higher courts have either overturned or commuted sentences by the lower courts.

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