Islamabad, October 31: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered for Asiya Bibi's immediate release after acquitting her of blasphemy charges. The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, read out the verdict and reversed the trial court's order which sentenced her to death. The said order was later upheld by the Lahore High Court.
"The judgement of the high court and that of the trial court is reversed," read the Chief Justice. He further mentioned that Bibi should be released from prison, provided she is not wanted in any other case, reported Dawn. The bench, which pronounced the judgement on Wednesday, comprised Chief Justice Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
The top court had previously reserved its judgement on Bibi's final appeal against her death penalty on October 8. The legal appeal had challenged Lahore High Court's October 2014 judgement that upheld a trial court's 2010 decision of sentencing Bibi to death on charges of blasphemy.
Security was heightened in Islamabad a night before the judgement, with Rangers and Frontier Constabulary being deployed to deal with any untoward incident in the aftermath of the verdict. Pakistan's Supreme Court Dismisses Petition Seeking Imran Khan's Disqualification.
Along with paramilitary forces, around 300 police personnel have been stationed to guard the Supreme Court building, which is right next to Pakistan's Parliament House.
Stringent measures were taken due to security threats, including those by religious groups like Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who threatened to "paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Asiya Bibi free", according to Dawn.
Asiya Bibi, a Christian woman, had been convicted for blasphemy by a trial court for the alleged comments made by her against the Prophet during an argument with three Muslim women. According to Al Jazeera, the argument broke out after the women refused to drink water from a cup that Bibi had touched.