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Aasia Bibi family appeals for early hearing of her case

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

The family of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan has appealed to the Supreme Court to hold an early hearing as she been on the death row since 2010.

Aasia Bibi, 51, has been on the death row since November 2010 after being convicted of committing blasphemy. In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld her death sentence.

She challenged it in the Supreme Court which stayed the execution in July 2015.

Since then no progress has been made in the case and Aasia is languishing in jail.

Her case gained prominence after the then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer pleaded for her retrial and was subsequently murdered by his police guard, Mumtaz Qadri, in January 2011.

Aasia's family, including her husband and two daughters, along with her lawyer Saiful Malook yesterday visited the Supreme Court. They met Additional Registrar (Judicial) and asked for a meeting with Chief Justice Saqib Nisar so that they could request him to fix an early date for hearing, The Express Tribune reported.

The family was not allowed to meet the chief justice, Malook said, adding that one of Aasia's daughters was suffering from a mental disease and the family wanted an early decision in the case.

Aasia's husband and daughters were scared when they arrived at the apex court building and reluctant to talk to reporters.

When The Express Tribune asked Aasia's husband about the case, he replied that speaking to the media could endanger their lives, making it impossible for them to return to their home in Lahore.

Malook said the apex court office had told them several times that the date of hearing would be fixed soon. Even last year, he added, the court office had assured that the date would be fixed by the end of December 2017.

Aasia was convicted of committing blasphemy during an argument with a Muslim woman in Sheikhupura district of Punjab.

The last time her case was taken up was on October 13 last year by a three-judge bench headed by incumbent Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman and Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik.

The hearing, however, was quickly adjourned because Justice Rehman recused himself as he was the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court when it heard the Salmaan Taseer assassination case. The assassin had cited Taseer's interest in the Aasia Bibi case as his motive.

According to her statement, Aasia was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Several Muslim women labourers objected, saying that she should not touch the water bowl.

At that point, they had an altercation and exchanged harsh words. Aasia said the women later levelled allegations of blasphemy against her in connivance with the wife of a local cleric.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 08 2018. 13:35 IST
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