Top court dismisses review petition against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has dismissed a review petition against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal, on Tuesday.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khan Khosa headed a three-member bench and the bench comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.

Earlier on October 31 last year, a SC bench headed by former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar set aside the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy. The 56-page verdict overturned the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict and directed authorities to release her from prison.

Following her acquittal, protests erupted across the country and continued for three days before being brought to an end with an agreement between the government and demonstrators.

Case history

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, had been on death row since 2010 after she was convicted on charges of committing blasphemy during an argument with three Muslim women in Sheikhupura.

Her case drew the attention of international rights groups and swiftly became the most high-profile in the country.

If the court refuses to allow the appeal, it will remove the last legal hurdle facing Bibi, who remains in protective custody.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan will decide on Tuesday (today) whether to allow a review petition against its decision to acquit Asia Bibi, in a years-long blasphemy case.

According to details, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will head a three-member bench and it comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel. The bench will hear a review petition filed against the top court’s verdict acquitting Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges.

Complainant Qari Muhammad Saalam had filed a review petition in the Supreme Court Lahore registry through his counsel Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, after the apex court acquitted Asia Bibi, who had been on death row since she was convicted on blasphemy charges in 2010.

The petitioner had argued that Bibi confessed to her crimes during investigation, and that a delay in lodging the First Information Request does not imply that the defendant is not guilty of the crime.

The petitioner had also sought to put her name on the Exit Control List till a final decision on the review petition was made.

Asia Bibi’s conviction was overturned by Pakistan’s highest court on October 31 in a landmark decision, but she had remained in prison as the government negotiated with protesters from religious groups — led by the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) — who blockaded major cities and demanded her immediate execution.

On November 2, the government had agreed in a deal with the protesters to follow due process to impose a travel ban on Bibi, and not to challenge the review appeal in the Supreme Court.