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Accused cannot be prosecuted on basis of ‘dreams’: LHC

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LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court (LHC) quashed a first information report (FIR) registered under blasphemy charges, observing that a person could not be prosecuted merely on the basis of what he sees in his dreams or for sharing his thoughts, visions, or emotions with others.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh held that the police failed in collecting substantial evidence to establish the offence against the accused and observed that those suffering from mental illnesses should be provided treatment and protection against punishment.

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“If we examine FIR we find that the offence under section 295-A PPC is not made out. There is no allegation that the petitioner did anything to offend any group of people or insult their religion or religious beliefs. Furthermore, the Assistant Advocate General could not point out any circumstances that might indicate malice on his part,” Justice Tariq observed in his detailed judgement issued on Saturday.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the petitioner intended to offend or harm the religious sensibilities of complainant or any other person with his statements,” Justice Tariq added.

It is pertinent to mention that a resident of Sohrabwala, Tehsil and District Mianwali on August 30, 2021 had filed a complaint with the Station House Officer (SHO) of Police Station Saddar alleging that the accused petitioner held sacrilegious beliefs that he began propagating to the general public about six months ago.

According to him, the accused petitioner claimed that he could fly and see Allah Almighty and various companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in his dreams. He further claimed that on August 26, 2021, the accused made similar statements before a crowd. “Such propagation hurt the community’s religious feelings and was likely to incite violence.” Finally the police on August 30, 2021 registered an FIR 337/2021 for an offence under section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Also read: LHC acquits Christian couple in blasphemy case after 8 years in jail

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“Investigation regarding an offence usually begins when information about it is given to the officer in-charge of a police station. Its primary objective is to determine the facts and circumstances of the case,” said the LHC judge in the verdict.

The principle of fair investigation requires that when a police officer investigates an offence, particularly one under Chapter XV of the PPC, he should determine whether the accused is mentally sound. “He [the investigation officer] must apply to the competent forum for his psychiatric evaluation if he suspects mental illness,” said the judge.

The law in Pakistan protects people with mental illnesses or impairments. Section 464 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) ordains that a person of “unsound mind” who is incapable of assisting in his own defence cannot be tried. Section 84 of PPC recognises the legal insanity defence. It states that a person cannot be held criminally responsible for an act, if due to unsoundness of mind at the time of committing it, he was incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that it was wrong or illegal.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental disorder cases account for more than 4% of Pakistan’s total disease burden. It estimates that 24 million people require psychiatric care, Justice Tariq wrote in the judgement.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that the FIR was politically motivated and concocted story. He argues that it does not state what blasphemous notions the petitioner holds and when he expressed them. The only specific allegation against him is that on August 26, 2021 that he told a group of people about his dreams and claimed to have seen Almighty Allah and certain holy personages. Such narration is not an offence under section 295-A PPC.

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Assistant Advocate General Mukhtar Ahmad Ranjha refuted the petitioner counsel’s contentions. He submitted that the petitioner’s thoughts and beliefs are blasphemous and sinful, and the law prohibits their expression. He contends that the accused deliberately and maliciously concocts false stories which offend other people’s religious feelings.

Although the petitioner was engaged in his nefarious activity for quite some time, FIR pertains to the specific incident that occurred and the prosecution witnesses support the prosecution case. “The FIR cannot be quashed because there is sufficient incriminating evidence against the petitioner,” said the assistant advocate general.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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