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SC terms ‘organised campaign’ against judges ‘unfortunate’

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) on Thursday described the “organised campaign” against judges as “unfortunate” and noted that direct attacks on judges were against the very idea of freedom of expression.

The Supreme Court’s statement came in response to “misreporting” on social, electronic and print media of a judgement issued on February 6, 2024.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa heading a two-member bench consisting of Justice Mussarat Hilali had issued the order on a set of appeals filed by petitioner Mubarik Ahmad Sani against an order of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

Sani was accused of distributing/disseminating a proscribed book, Tafseer-e-Sagheer, which as per the prosecution, was an offence under the Punjab Holy Quran (Printing and Recording) (Amendment) Act enforced in 2021. However, the FIR stated that he had done the act in 2019 when it was not an offence.

Referring to the verdict, the top court lamented that in dealing with cases pertaining to offences against religion, facts give way to emotions, and Islamic commands are not heeded.

“Confusion is spreading due to the erroneous reporting on print, social, and electronic media about an order. An impression is being given that the Supreme Court has deviated from the Constitution’s definition of a Muslim and also called for ending the punishments for religious offences under the Pakistan Penal Code,” it added. “This impression is totally wrong.”

The statement mentioned that the top court had noted in the aforementioned case, the judges had noted that even if all the offences included in the FIR were accepted as they were, they were not applicable to the petitioner.

“In the case, the court said, Criminal Amendment Act 1932 would be applicable under which the maximum prison sentence was six months. Since the petitioner was already jailed for a year, therefore, in line with the law and Islamic teachings, the suspect was released on bail.”

The court’s statement noted that “unfortunately, people get emotional and forget Islamic teachings in such cases”.

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