Islamabad, January 29: In the wake of massive public pressure and threats of violence from far-right groups, the Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday stood by its erstwhile order in the blasphemy case involving Christian woman Asia Bibi. The bench headed by Chief Justice Saeed Khosa upheld the order issued last year, which acquitted Bibi from all the charges levelled against her.
The three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice also granted permission to Bibi to leave Pakistan. The accused, who has spent eight years in prison during the undertrial stage, had petitioned the authorities to allow her to seek asylum in Canada. Citing Mahabharata, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb Claims Internet Existed in Ancient India.
"Based on merit, this review petition is dismissed... You could not point out (even) a single mistake in the Supreme Court's verdict," Justice Khosa told the petitioner's lawyer.
Bibi, a mother of five, was acquitted in October last year -- which prompted massive protests across the nation led by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). She was accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad in 2009 and a court sentenced her to death in 2010.
The review petition was filed by cleric Qari Muhammad Salaam through his lawyer Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, who presented his arguments before the bench and demanded that a larger bench comprising Islamic scholars be constituted to hear the petition.
The petition, according to the report, stated that Bibi confessed to her crimes during investigation and that a delay in lodging the First Information Request did not imply that the defendant was not guilty of the crime.
It had also sought to put her name on the Exit Control List till a final decision on the review petition was made.
Meanwhile, the TLP had on Monday night rejected the top court bench formed to hear the review petition and threatened a protest movement if Bibi was given "judicial relief".
The hardline Islamist party had called off its protests last year after reaching an agreement with the government, the foremost condition of which was the placement of Bibi's name on the Exit Control List.
The government, however, had only agreed to "initiate the legal process" to place her name on the list, while also agreeing that it would not oppose any review petitions being filed against the apex court's judgment.
The rejection of the petition on Tuesday lifted the last legal hurdle in the years-long blasphemy case and potentially paved the way for Bibi to leave the country.
(With IANS inputs)