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October 14, 2016

SC judge recuses hearing into Asia Bibi’s appeal

Top Story

October 14, 2016

Blasphemy case

ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing into a death row Christian lady Asia Bibi's appeal, who was convicted in a blasphemy case after a member of the bench recused himself from hearing the instant case. 

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman and Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik heard the appeal of Asia Bibi.

During the course of hearing, Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman, a member of the bench, recused himself from the said bench saying that as he had earlier heard the murder case of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and as the instant appeal related to the said matter, he cannot sit on the instant bench and has to recuse.

The court then adjourned the hearing in the instant appeal and referred the matter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for constituting a bench sans Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman.

Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman was chief justice of the Islamabad High Court, which had heard Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal in 2011. Mumtaz Qadri, the former elite force guard, had killed former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for supporting Asia Bibi. Mumtaz Qadri was hanged this year on March 1. Asia Bibi, a Christian lady, was sentenced to death in November 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water in Sheikhupura in June 2009. She has been on a death row since November 2010, but her case gained prominence after then Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer pleaded for a retrial and was shot dead.

On July 22, 2015, the same  three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, granted Aasia the right to appeal while suspending the Lahore High Court’s earlier order of maintaining her death sentence.

Asia 51, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court in November 2014, claiming she had not uttered any blasphemous remarks and was falsely accused by her neighbours over a personal feud.

On October 27, 2015, the Supreme Court in Mumtaz Qadri’s judgement case had urged the government to ensure that no one was forced to endure an investigation or trial on the basis of false blasphemy allegations.

On Thursday, the court adjourned the hearing of appeal of Asia Bibi after referring the instant appeal to the chief justice of Pakistan for constituting a bench sans Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman.