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January 13, 2019

Protests against Aasia verdict: Compensate victims in a month, SC orders govts

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January 13, 2019

LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday directed the federal and all four provincial governments to pay compensation within a month to people who suffered losses of lives and properties during religious parties’ protests against the SC verdict in the Aasia Bibi blasphemy case.

A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a suo motu case at the SC Lahore Registry regarding losses and damages caused to properties during the three-day long countrywide sit-ins and protests.

The protests were staged by religious parties, led by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), after the apex court acquitted Aasia Bibi.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan was the other member of the bench.

Officials of interior ministry and Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais appeared before the court.

At the outset of the hearing, the government official submitted a report pertaining to assessment of losses caused due to protests.

The chief justice asked the AGP to apprise the court how compensatory payments would be made to the victims.

The official stated, “The federal cabinet has approved a compensation package amounting to Rs262 million.” At this, Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked, “Has a compensation plan been prepared or is this just on paper?”

The chief justice remarked, “Over two-and-a-half months have passed, but a complete plan regarding compensation packages has not been submitted. Had the court not ordered, this plan would not have been presented. The government had no plans to compensate the losses.” A section officer of the Ministry of Interior told the court, “We will make compensation payments this month.”

The court directed federal and provincial governments to pay compensation to the victims within a month and submit a compliance report. On October 31, the apex court had acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, who was facing a death sentence for blasphemy, and ordered for releasing her from prison immediately.

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