Saturday April 13, 2024

ATC acquits two in case pertaining to hurting religious sentiments

By Yousuf Katpar
March 19, 2024
This representational image shows a person holding a gavel. — Pexels/File
This representational image shows a person holding a gavel. — Pexels/File

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) has acquitted two men in a case pertaining to insulting religious beliefs, observing that the FIR against them was lodged by the police without mandatory government authorisation.

Both the men had been charged with offences punishable under the sections 295-A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 298 (uttering words, etc with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The ATC judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his order after recording evidence and final arguments from the defence and prosecution sides.

He observed that the Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) clearly indicated that an offence punishable under the Section 195-A of the PPC was not merely an offence against a particular person but against the state. Therefore, he added that the procedure warranted a court to take cognisance of such offence only when the complaint was made by order of the federal or provincial government.

The judge said the present FIR against the accused was lodged by a police officer who was neither authorised by the central government nor the provincial government in terms of the Section 196 of the CrPC.

"Admittedly, in the present case, neither the federal government nor even the provincial government had chalked out the FIR against the accused and nor even it was chalked out by a person authorised by either of the two governments on their behalf and therefore, in view of the case law as re-produced above, the proceedings against the accused as initiated against them have become void and nullity in the eyes of law," he noted.

The judge ruled that the prosecution had failed to make out its case against the accused on merit as well as on legal side, exonerating them from all the charges. On September 4, 2020, the New Karachi police had lodged an FIR against the two men under the sections 295-A, 298, and 34 of the PPC read with the Section 7 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).