The Judiciary – 2014

Construction of Ahmadiyya mosque barred

Narowal; June 2014:             Ahmadis of village Ramra were building their place of worship. They had raised the walls and had undertaken the shuttering for making the roof.

As usual, anti-Ahmadi elements opposed the construction and used the state power in their support. They made the situation volatile by the middle of this month, and assured the police of riots in case Ahmadis succeeded in having a place to worship.

The police willingly accepted the argument of ‘threat to peace’ and told the Ahmadis to stop the construction. Ahmadis met the District Police Officer (DPO) Narowal and explained him their position. The DPO expressed a few words of sympathy but took no concrete action to ensure that Ahmadis would have their place of worship.

In the meantime the local court became handy to the religious bigots; it issued a “Stay Order” against Ahmadis. The construction came to a stop.

It is decades since the authorities allowed Ahmadis to build a place of worship anywhere in Pakistan.

Since the promulgation of Ordinance XX in 1984, 27 Ahmadiyya mosques have been demolished, 18 set on fire or damaged, 31 sealed by the authorities and 16 forcibly occupied by non-Ahmadis with official support.

The daily Mashriq, Lahore reported the following on June 18, 2014: Pak Army to protect all 7 Gurdawaras of Sikhs in Nankana Sahib

The discrimination is striking.

 

 

 

Retired Judiciary active in anti-Ahmadi campaign

Lahore: Sectarian ulama of the International Khatme Nabuwwat Movement (led by mulla Abdul Hafeez Makki of Saudi Arabia, and funded with petrodollars) held an anti-Ahmadi conference in Lahore on February 26, 2014. It was reported in the daily Khabrain and ‘Pakistan’ of February 29, 2014. A few observations and comments are made below based mostly on these two press reports.

This conference was attended and addressed, inter alia, by Chief Justice (Retired) Khawja Sharif of Lahore High Court and Justice (Retired) Khalid Mahmood. Following was stated or demanded in the conference:

  • On no forum in the world, Ahmadis are considered Muslim.
  • World (Aalami) courts have declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.
  • Ahmadis should accept their ‘non-Muslim’ status so that their rights are protected like those of other religious minorities, otherwise they should be prosecuted on charge of treason.
  • The federation should take the lead in protecting the honour of the End of Prophethood of the Holy Prophet (by initiating the demanded prosecution of Ahmadis).
  • The government should cancel the allotment of residential land of Rabwah and allot the plots to individual occupants. (In fact this land was not allotted, but was sold to the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya sixty-six years ago. Ed.)
  • In-depth study has revealed that Ahmadiyyat is the other name of fraud and lies.

Etc. etc.

The above statements are obvious violations of the national law PPC 153A: “Whoever,…. Promotes or incites … disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities shall be punished with imprisonments, for a term which may extend to five years and with fine.”

The presence of these retired judges at such a gathering and their addresses therein where a crime was being committed is very difficult to comprehend. However, another retired judge of the same ilk Nazir Akhtar is on record to have once stated in public that, there is no need of any law to punish a man who is guilty of defiling the name of the Holy Prophet and anyone who commits blasphemy against the Prophet can be dispatched to hell. (The daily Jang; Lahore of September 5, 1999)

Mr. Rafiq Tarar was another judge of the Lahore High Court who deserves a mention at this juncture. He also became a senator and the president of Pakistan. He is known to have been a Khatme Nabuwwat activist in his early career, a strong leaning he cherished through his later years. He wrote an article in the daily Nawa-i-Waqt of 27 January 1997 instigating his readers by words: “If any ‘important personage’ or persons attempt to juggle with the anti-Qadiani Ordinance, they would face millions of Muslims ready to lay down their lives for the defense of End of Prophethood.” He was a great admirer of General Zia.

It is not difficult to imagine the quality of justice Ahmadi accused received from such judges in superior courts in the past 40 years.

This conference was held in Evan-i-Iqbal, a building complex built and maintained at public expense.

The conference was presided over by mulla Abdul Hafeez Makki (from Saudi Arabia) and addressed by mulla Ahmad Ali Siraj (from Kuwait). Local mullas who also addressed the conference included Ilyas Chinioti, Amjad Khan, Amir Hamza, Zahid ur Rashidi, Iftikharulla Shakir etc. Some of these are routinely banned entry in other districts during the month of Muharram, to ensure that sectarian peace is not threatened.

These mullas from abroad were also taken to Chiniot and Rabwah and shown the seminary, the head office, the mosque etc. (apparently to show that the oil-money was being well spent). At night, the guests were feted at a sumptuous dinner. It was stated in a similar conference in Chiniot that, “Qadianiat is a major cancer; the entire Ummah will have to make a joint effort to crush this mischief.” The daily Pakistan, Lahore; February 27, 2014

Last but not least, this Fatah Mubahila Conference was held to celebrate the claimed victory of mulla Manzoor Chinioti (the father of mulla Ilyas Chinioti) in a prayer-duel against the Ahmadi Khalifa. In fact, the prayer duel never took place; it was not even scheduled by the parties.

Notice on a gate in Lahore High Court premises

 

Released on bail – Mr. Tahir Ahmad Khalid

Tando Allah Yar, Sindh; September 13, 2014:         Mr. Tahir Ahmad Khalid, an Ahmadi missionary was finally released on bail after five and half months of detention on a false accusation of blasphemy. A brief resume′ would be in order at this stage.

On March 31, 2014 extremist elements arranged stoning at Ahmadi missionary’s residence by madrassah students in Tando Allah Yar. Thereafter this incident was escalated into anti-Ahmadi riots in the town by mullas. They leveled blasphemy charges against the missionary, Mr. Tahir Ahmad Khalid, tasked a complainant to make a formal report to the police, put pressure on the administration and had the missionary arrested.

Mr. Khalid’s plea for bail was rejected by the magistrate. Thereafter when it was contested at the Sessions’ level, the clerics maintained their vigil at the court and the Sessions Judge found it convenient to reject Mr. Khalid’s plea. He had to take his plea to the Sindh High Court.

At the High Court the prosecutors successfully indulged in delaying tactics and had the hearing repeatedly postponed on various dates on following grounds:

  • The prosecution attorney was new to the case; he needed more time to prepare his case.
  • At the given date, the prosecutor failed to turn up.
  • By the close of the court’s working hours, this case being at the tail-end, could not be heard.
  • The judge was not available.

etc, etc.

Months passed and the innocent accused remained in prison for lack of grant of bail. Eventually, Syed Saeed-ud-din Nasir J, a good judge decided to catch the bull by the horns and granted release on bail. In his Order, the judge observed that:

  • The complainant did not witness the act of defiling the Quran. He only heard of it from someone else who heard it from others.
  • The alleged mutilated pages of the Quran had still not been recovered by the police and the investigation to that end was still in progress (five months after the incident).
  • The complainant had consulted with the ‘Ulama-e-karam’ who advised him to lodge the complaint. etc; etc.

It is a fair question to ask as to why these obvious aspects of the case, pointed out earlier as well in lower courts, went unheeded by the magistrate and the sessions judge. Why did they withhold justice to the victimized accused?

Mr. Khalid, who initially was given the impression by the police that he was being detained to protect him from the mob, remained behind bars for 22 weeks before he was set free to face the baseless trial. It is noteworthy that the counsel for the complainant vehemently opposed the grant of the bail, while the Learned A.P.G Sindh half-heartedly opposed the grant of bail application, according to the judge’s Order Sheet. This shows the extent of unholy team-work between the state, the mullas, the police and the extremist/sectarian elements against marginalized sections of society, called religious minorities.

Release on bail is only the first step in the right direction. A court trial is still to follow. The prosecution of Mr. Khalid may go on for years. If declared guilty, he could end up in prison for life for a crime he would not even dream of. Holy Quran to him is as dear, holy and revered as Bible to a practicing Christian.

 

The Bhoiwal court case

On May 12, 2014 a fabricated case of blasphemy was registered under PPC 295-A against 4 Ahmadis of Bhoiwal in Police Station Sharaqpur, District Sheikhupura. Mr. Khalil Ahmad was arrested and put behind bars in the police station. On May 16, 2014 a madrassah student went to the police station and shot dead the Ahmadi who was in police custody.

The criminal case proceedings however continued against the remaining three Ahmadis. They were called to appear in the court on June 14, then on June 17, thereafter on June 24. However their bail was cancelled and they were arrested on July 18, 2014. Their plea for bail was heard by a judge. He refused them the relief.

Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, Mr. Ghulam Ahmad and Mr. Ehsan Ahmad remained in prison on a fabricated complaint whose initiators had the fourth accused shot dead in police custody.

In case these accused, who are otherwise innocent, are declared guilty they are at risk of being imprisoned for 10 years. Their fourth co-accused has already suffered the penalty of death at the hand of a student from a madrassah run by a banned organization.

This is how the state is administering Pakistan – “the land of the pure”.

 

Bail accepted – but at the high court level

The bail plea of Dr. Masood Ahmad a senior citizen who had been arrested for quoting the Holy Quran to a questioner was finally accepted by the Lahore High Court on January 27, 2014.     He was kept behind bars for over 9 weeks. He was refused bail by a magistrate and then by an Additional Sessions Judge. It is for consideration that if the circumstances of the case are such that a bail is justified in the opinion of a high court judge, the same should have been ordinarily the opinion of a magistrate too. It is not fair and just on the part of lower judiciary to act ‘pious’ or timid and refuse bail to Ahmadis unjustifiably.

 

 

 

‘No non-Muslim can teach Islamic Studies’. The daily The Express Tribune published the following report from Lahore on October 23, 2014 under the above headline, (extracts):

Petitioner alleges 17 non-Muslims being interviewed for teaching Islamic Studies

Justice Abid Aziz Shaikh of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday directed the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) to submit an undertaking that no non-Muslim would be recruited as lecturer in Islamic Studies. The judge was hearing a petition requesting the court to declare void a notification for interview of 17 non-Muslims for the lectureship. Justice Shaikh also directed the PPSC’s counsel to produce their National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) record to establish whether or not they were Muslims….

…. The petitioner said 17 non-Muslims were called for the interview for the post of Islamic Studies lecturers. Rehman had filed the petition in 2012 seeking a stay order against the recruitment of non-Muslims as lecturers in Islamic Studies. He had requested the court to declare the notification for interviews void.

It can be assumed that the petitioner, mulla Aziz ur Rehman, had put up his petition to the High Court against PPSC’s call to some Ahmadis for interview who had the required academic qualification and had qualified for the interview.

 

Bail granted, at last – at the High Court

Lahore/Gujranwala; September 29, 2014:    In June 2014 three Ahmadis were arrested in Gujranwala after a false complaint was registered against them under anti-Ahmadi law PPC 298-C. Since then they were in prison, as bail was denied to them by the lower courts. Eventually they had to knock at the door of the High Court, where they got the relief. A brief résumé is in order over blatant loss of freedom of these three innocent Ahmadis for approximately four months.

Ahmadis in Kallar Abadi had celebrated a religious day in their prayer centre and held a seminar. A member of a Butt family who had a property dispute with the owner of the prayer centre became ‘complainant’ and had a criminal case registered against three Ahmadis under anti-Ahmadi clause PPC 298-C.

Initially Mr. Mubashir Ahmad, the caretaker of the prayer centre was arrested. The other two, Mr. Khalid Mahmud and Javaid Ahmad were arrested when they approached a court for bail before arrest. The post-arrest bail of Mubashir Ahmad was also denied.

A bail petition was then moved by the latter two detainees before Mr. Zamir Hussain Shah, judicial magistrate. He dismissed the petition under the ‘rule of consistency’ that the case of these two was no different than the first one. In fact, he should have examined the case of the first one also and released all the three on bail.

Thereafter a plea for bail was made before the sessions court. It was heard on July 9. The prosecuting attorney took the line that the three accused had committed ‘blasphemy’ hence their plea should be rejected. This was absurd as the accused had not even been charged under a blasphemy clause but an anti-Ahmadi clause.

The sessions judge found it convenient to reject their plea. The three remained in prison. They then approached the High Court. In his Order dated September 25, 2014 Judge Qasim Khan observed that, inter alia:

  • The case file does not show the persons who were present in the house when the petitioners were preaching.
  • The accusers did not name the persons to whom the petitioners preached.
  • Allegedly loudspeakers were used for preaching. No such articles were recovered during investigation. No case was registered under the Amplifier Act.
  • In view of the above, the petitioners are admitted to post-arrest bail.

Accordingly they were released three days later on completion of formalities.

The three accused had undertaken no preaching. They were accused falsely. The police and lower judiciary booked them and prolonged their detention unjustly. The administration and the judicial system worked as a tool for self-seekers, religious bullies and social goons. It is this kind of administration that resulted in anti-Ahmadi riots a few weeks later in nearby Arafat Colony in which three Ahmadi females including a suckling lost their lives amidst cheering crowd of murderous lunatics.

Mr. Shahbaz Sharif presides over this administration in the provincial capital, Lahore.

 

LHC upholds death sentence of blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi

Lahore: The Daily Times reported the above news on October 17, 2014. It added: “Court dismisses counsel’s argument that trial court awarded sentence despite lack of evidence. Christian woman has 30 days to challenge verdict before SC.”

According to the daily Dawn of October 14, a division bench of the high court upheld the death sentence. Fifty-year-old Aasia Bibi, a mother of five was arrested on June 19, 2009. In November 2010, an additional and sessions judge had sentenced her to death which she challenged in the Lahore High Court.

The Dawn reported the following important aspects of the case and the verdict:

The court asked the counsel for both sides whether death penalty was the only sentence for blasphemy.

The counsel for the complainant said the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) had in 1991 directed the federal government to amend Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and omit the word life sentence. According to him, the FSC observed that the word life sentence would deem to be omitted if the proposed amendment was not made in the given time.

The government had challenged the verdict but later withdrawn it. Therefore, the counsel argued, the offence under Section 295-C of the PPC carried the punishment of death only. (Emphasis added)

He said the trial court had followed all provisions of the law.

After hearing both sides, the LHC bench headed by Justice Anwarul Haq rejected Aasia Bibi’s appeal and upheld the death penalty.

 

Civil society mourns the loss of Advocate Rashid Rehman

Multan; May 8, 2014:          Advocate Rashid Rehman a committed rights activist was gunned down here. These days he was defending an under trial blasphemy accused.

Mr. Rehman was not an Ahmadi; however his murder has a direct impact on the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Hence his mention is in this report. Also, we would like to mention this courageous good man in our archives to honor his memory and services to the down-trodden.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) mentioned in their press release: “It must be recalled that on 10 April, through a statement, the Commission had brought it to the attention of the authorities that Rashid was being openly threatened by prosecution lawyers in the Multan District Prison where he was representing a blasphemy accused. Three persons had addressed defense lawyer Rashid Rehman in the judge’s presence and said: “You will not come to court next time because you will not exist anymore.” It is regrettable that no attention was paid to HRCP’s or Rashid’s concerns and nothing was done to apprehend three persons who had threatened Rashid. In its earlier statement, HRCP had demanded that the three persons who had threatened defense lawyer Rashid Rehman in the case be ‘proceeded against under the law without delay and effective measures are taken to ensure the defense lawyers security’.

Ms. Iram Abbasi posted her comments on BBC Urdu.com the same day under headline: When religion becomes a business, only the beasts reign. Excerpts:

“Rashid Rehman was a bold man. He refused to bend before extremism despite difficulties…

“When I asked him whether he feared his unguarded office and court appearances, he pointed toward Junaid, the accused and said, “I am his last hope. Lawyers are afraid to defend him; but no one can deter me from my work.”

“With every passing day, men like Rashid Rehman and those who care for them, are diminishing in numbers, and the self-seekers who impose their bigotry on people through the muzzle of the gun are winning the battle….”

According to a press report no lawyer out of the thousands in Multan is prepared to take up the case of the murder of his workmate Rashid Rehman.

A few days later, an Ahmadi, falsely accused of blasphemy was gunned down in a police lock-up in the same province Punjab. To-date approximately 300 Ahmadis had to face blasphemy allegations under PPC 295-C – all entirely false; no exaggeration.

On May 26 a renowned Canadian-American Ahmadi doctor who had come to Pakistan on a charity mission was shot dead in Rabwah, Punjab.

 

Bangladesh high court shows the way

Calls attack on Hindus terrorism against state

Dhaka: The Dhaka Tribune published the following story on February 10, 2014 (Extracts):

HC says attack on Hindus terrorism against state

The High Court yesterday labeled the recent attack on Hindus in 12 districts after the January 5 election as ‘terrorism against the state’ and ordered the police to include sedition charge in the first information reports filed against the perpetrators.

When the matter came for hearing, the court asked the state counsel why the allegation of sedition had not been mentioned in the cases. It said the atrocities were ‘terrorism against the state’.

On January 15, the same bench on its own motion said it was quite apparent that the law enforcement agencies had failed to protect the interests of citizens, especially the minority communities and vulnerable groups, which prompted the court to pass the order.

It directed the police chief to submit a report within seven days mentioning the measures taken for protection of these people as well as actions against those directly or indirectly responsible for the atrocities.

According to section 124A of the Penal Code 1860, the highest punishment for sedition is imprisonment for life.

In mid-January, the government took an initiative to establish a special tribunal to deal with the post election violence, especially that against religious minorities.

 

Compensate Pabna Hindus

The same bench yesterday on its own initiative directed the government to pay TK 43.42 lakh as compensation to the affected Hindu families of Santhia Upazila in Pabna by three weeks for the mayhem of November 2 and arrest the perpetrators immediately.

The bench had ordered the authorities concerned to assess the losses and the damage incurred in the attacks and find out the persons who spread the rumour that a Hindu had insulted prophet Muhammad (SM) on Facebook. It had also ordered to deploy adequate law enforcers in the affected area.

Yesterday, the court ordered for the compensation after a police probe committee submitted a report on the attacks.