SC clarifies CJP Isa’s ‘blasphemy case remarks’ amid smear campaign

  • CJP citing Quranic verses, emphasised Islam’s fundamental tenets
  • Top court condemns ‘organised campaign’ against judiciary, stresses constitutional avenues

ISLAMABAD: Following an escalating online campaign targeting Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, the Supreme Court on Thursday released a clarification regarding a recent verdict involving a blasphemy accused.

The campaign gained momentum following Chief Justice Isa’s remarks in a blasphemy-related case, which surfaced online. In the judgment, CJP Isa underscored Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) duty to convey the Message without compelling belief.

Citing Quranic verses, the chief justice emphasized Islam’s fundamental tenets, notably the freedom of faith. “Sadly, in matters of religion, tempers flare up, and the Quranic mandate is forsaken,” CJP Isa remarked, acknowledging the sensitivity surrounding religious issues.

He made these observations while deciding a case involving the deletion of charges against a blasphemy accused, including Sections 7 and 9 of the Punjab Holy Qur’an (Printing and Recording) Act, 2011, as well as Sections 298-C and 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

He stressed the need for caution in religious matters, noting that religious compulsion violates the Divine scheme of accountability. The court regretfully noted that emotions often override facts in cases related to religious offences.

The court granted bail to the petitioner, Mubarik Ahmed Sani, upon providing a personal bond of Rs5,000.

A press release issued by the top court addressed concerns regarding misreporting by the media, stating, “Misreporting of a Supreme Court decision on electronic, print and social media is creating a lot of misunderstandings and giving the impression that the Supreme Court has deviated from the Second Constitutional Amendment (definition of ‘Muslim’) and has called for the abolition of provisions on ‘crimes against religion’. This perception is completely wrong.”

The clarification from the court further explained, “In the concerned case, even if the allegations mentioned in the FIR are accepted as true, even then the provisions do not apply, adding that in such cases Section 5 of the Criminal Amendment Act, 1932 applies, under which publication of prohibited books can be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 6 months.”

“Since the petitioner/accused had already spent more than one year in prison, the Supreme Court, keeping in view Islamic injunctions, constitutional provisions and the requirements of law and justice, ordered the release of the petitioner/accused on bail,” it added.

The statement continued to outline CJP Isa’s approach to judicial interpretation, stating that he tries to interpret all laws in accordance with Islamic rules, reasoning from the verses of the Holy Qur’an, the Hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), the decisions of the Caliphs, and the opinions of the jurists.

It further clarified, “If one believes that there has been a mistake in a judicial decision in the interpretation of an Islamic principle or a constitutional or legal provision, then it is the responsibility of the learned people to correct it and there are constitutional and legal avenues for it. The chief justice and the Supreme Court have not stopped anyone before from a review, nor will they stop it now.”

The statement also condemned organised campaigns against the judiciary, asserting that criticism should follow constitutional avenues. It warned against violating the right to freedom of expression, emphasising the judiciary’s role in protecting the rights of the people in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The controversy surrounding Chief Justice Isa’s observations escalated as several political parties in the country, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), joined the campaign. These parties actively called for CJP Isa to reconsider his verdict in the specific case, adding a political dimension to the already charged discourse on matters of faith.

Meanwhile, caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, and Parliamentary Affairs, Murtaza Solangi, issued a stern warning on Thursday against the use of social media platforms for inciting violence, labelling it as an illegal activity.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Interfaith Harmony, Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, Solangi announced that the government would take strict action against those involved in such unlawful activities, emphasising the limitations on freedom of expression as outlined in Article 19 of the Constitution.

Under Article 19, Solangi highlighted that derogatory remarks against the judiciary, armed forces, and friendly nations were prohibited. He specifically pointed out the misuse of social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, for propaganda, spreading lies, defaming government officials, and harassing individuals.

Solangi asserted that companies profiting from these platforms could not evade responsibility if their platforms were used to disrupt law and order, incite violence, and promote hatred.

Moreover, law enforcement agencies also apprehended Abdul Wasay, a resident of Pandora area in Rawalpindi, who had launched a threatening campaign on social media against CJP Isa.

Wasay, participating in a vile and threatening campaign against the chief justice on social media platform X, was involved in character assassination as well.

The arrest of Wasay signalled the government’s commitment to curbing illegal activities on social media. The ongoing process of identifying and taking legal action against other individuals involved in the social media campaign against the chief justice emphasised the authorities’ dedication to maintaining law and order and safeguarding the principles of justice in Pakistan.


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