Pak woman principal sentenced to death for committing blasphemy

The woman was booked by the Lahore Police under Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) based on the complaint of a local cleric in September 2013.
A protest against blasphemy in Pakistan. (Image for representation only)(AFP file)
A protest against blasphemy in Pakistan. (Image for representation only)(AFP file)
Published on Sep 28, 2021 02:15 PM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A Pakistani court has sentenced to death a woman principal of a private school in Lahore for committing blasphemy, according to news agency PTI. Additional district and sessions judge Mansoor Ahmad observed that the accused, Tanvir, committed blasphemy by making derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The court also imposed a fine of PKR 5,000 ($29) on the accused.

The case dates back to September 2013 when Lahore Police booked Tanvir under Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) based on the complaint of a local cleric. She was accused of denying the finality of Prophet Muhammad and claimed herself to be the Prophet of Islam.

Tanvir's counsel Muhammad Ramzan argued that the court should consider that her client was an "unsound minded person". However, the prosecution stated that "the suspect was fit to stand trial as she was not mentally deranged" as per a report by a medical board of the Punjab Institute of Mental Health submitted to the court.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws, colonial-era legislation, have been long termed controversial. However, their prescribed punishments, amended by former dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, are considered extremely severe. A notorious case of blasphemy grabbed headlines in 2010 when a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Noreen, popularly known as Asia Bibi, was convicted of blasphemy following an argument with a group of women in 2009 who accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammed.

Nearly a decade later in October 2018, she was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan due to insufficient evidence, although she was not allowed to leave the country until the verdict was reviewed. Asia Bibi now lives in Canada at an undisclosed location.

At least 1,472 people have been charged under the blasphemy law in Pakistan since 1987. People accused of blasphemy are usually deprived of the right to a counsel of their choice as most lawyers refuse to take up such sensitive cases.

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Friday, January 21, 2022