These 7 points explain the Supreme Court’s decision to free Asia Bibi



The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued its much-anticipated judgement in the ‘Asia Bibi v. The State, etc’ case, reversing earlier judgments handed down by the Lahore High Court as well as a trial court and thereby overturning the conviction of Asia Bibi in the blasphemy case against her.

The three-judge bench subsequently ordered the 50-something mother-of-four’s immediate release from jail, where she had been languishing for 9-odd years.

The Supreme Court’s judgement — a seismic event in the country’s history, judicial or otherwise — heavily references Islamic teachings and tradition, but ultimately relies on an assessment of facts and evidence to support the overturning of the earlier conviction.

Below are a few of the key points shared in the judgment.

1. Over 25 witnesses but only two accusations

What the SC judgement said:

“There were 25-30 ladies present at the spot when the appellant allegedly passed blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), however, none of the other ladies except Mafia Bibi (Prosecution Witness 2) and Asma Bibi (Prosecution Witness 3) reported the matter to anyone… At this stage, it is to be noted that the said ladies did not appear before the Court to support the prosecution case.”

2. First Information Report (FIR) registered suspiciously late

What the SC judgement said:

“There is no denial of the fact that the FIR was registered with a delay of 5 days…

“Another important aspect of the matter is that the complainant (PW-1) in his statement admitted that the application for registration of FIR was drafted by an Advocate; however, he could not mention his name. This also cast doubt on the truthfulness of the story narrated in the FIR.”

3. Witnesses in the case gave contradictory statements

The contradictions in the witnesses’ statements as noted by the Court are listed below:

Mafia Bibi (PW.2)

She stated during cross examination that there were “more than 1,000” present in the public gathering where Asia Bibi had allegedly ‘confessed’ to committing blasphemy. However, she never mentioned this fact in her initial statement.

4. Complainant unsure about date of crime

What the SC judgement said:

“A further conflict also prevails between the other PWs and the complainant. Other PWs stated that the matter was brought to the notice of complainant on the same day i.e. 14.6.2009; however, the complainant during his cross-examination stated that he was informed of the occurrence on 16.6.2009.”

5. Glaring discrepancies regarding FIR and arrest

What the SC judgement said:

“At the bottom of the FIR, the place of registration of the FIR has been mentioned that the FIR was registered by Mehdi Hassan, SI [Sub Inspector] at “bridge canal Chandar Cot” and the time of registration is given as ‘5:45 pm’… Conversely, the complainant (PW.1) in his statement has mentioned that the FIR was registered by delivering the application to the SHO concerned. However, Muhammad Rizwan, SI (PW.5) stated that the complainant presented before him the complaint upon which he formally registered the FIR.”

6. Lying about not fighting with Asia Bibi

The court noted that the two sisters, Asma and Mafia Bibi, who were key witnesses, had both denied that any altercation took place between them and Asia Bibi over the fetching of water.

However, it pointed out that a police officer who investigated the case and the owner of the plantation where the incident took place — both unrelated and independent witnesses — “admitted in their statements that an altercation/quarrel took place between them [Asma, Mafia and Asia], thus the factum of quarrel is proved from the record”.

7. Extra-judicial confession

What the SC judgement said:

“This Court has repeatedly held that evidence of extra-judicial confession is a fragile piece of evidence and utmost care and caution has to be exercised in placing reliance on such a confession… It is always looked at with doubt and suspicion due to the ease with which it may be concocted. The legal worth of the extra judicial confession is almost equal to naught, keeping in view the natural course of events, human behaviour, conduct and probabilities, in ordinary course.”

DAWN for more

Comments are closed.