Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Proposed Amendments to Pakistan Blasphemy Law

I am posting this blog entry by Xavier Williams on the above topic as it not only introduces the proposed amendments to the (now controversial) laws but also provides a historical backdrop of how they culminated into current form, starting from 1927. Please read on....

Sherry Rehman, Member of National Assembly, has through a bill proposed amendments to certain sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) along with a suggestion to introduce two new sections. These provisions prescribe punishments for Offenses Relating to Religion. Her bill also includes changes to Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) regarding arrest, cognizance and trial of offenses under these provisions.

Proposed changes to punishments

Section 295-A was introduced in 1927 apparently after the Ghazi Ilm Din episode to provide punishment for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. The maximum punishment under section 295-A was two years’ imprisonment of either description till 1991 when it was increased to 10 years. The bill proposes it to revert it to a maximum of two years.

Similarly, punishment for the offence of defiling of the Holy Qur’an under section 295-B introduced in 1982 by General Zia, is proposed to be reduced to imprisonment up to 5 years instead of life imprisonment.

Another blasphemy law, section 295-C, introduced in 1986 provided punishment of death or life imprisonment and fine for use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Prophet Mohammad. However, a Federal Shariat Court judgment in 1990 (cited as PLD 1991 FSC 10) rendered alternative sentence of imprisonment for life under 295-C inapplicable and death sentence compulsory, after the Court found alternative punishment of life imprisonment under 295-C against the injunctions of Islam. Sherry Rehman’s bill proposes imprisonment of either description for 10 years, or with fine, or both as punishment under section 295-C.

To read the rest of the blog, click here:

And, if you want to read the text of the law, here is the link:

Between 1986 and 2010, 986 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws; 50 per cent of those are non-Muslim. None of the accused has been hanged.

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