Pakistan top court upholds death for Punjab governor's killer
Taseer was killed in January 2011 in Islamabad's Kohsar market.
Islamabad: The Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld on Wednesday the death sentence for former elite force guard Mumtaz Qadri for killing former Punjab governor Salman Taseer claiming he committed blasphemy.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa scrapped a plea seeking to revoke Qadri's death sentence which was first awarded by an anti-terror court and then upheld by the Islamabad High Court (LHC).
Taseer was killed in January 2011 in Islamabad's Kohsar market. Qadri confessed that he killed Taseer because he committed blasphemy by calling the blasphemy law enacted by military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq as a black law. The case had assumed special significance because some religious lobbies justified the murder. Judges of lower courts were frightened to hear the case.
The judges questioned whether an individual had the authority to assume the role of a judge, jury and executioner after having accused someone of committing blasphemy.
Justice Khosa, who headed the bench, was apprehensive that if people had the authority to punish alleged blasphemers, then chaos will reign. He warned that people could misuse it by accusing opponents of blasphemy to settle personal scores.
The court further asked whether Qadri had approached the state with his accusation of blasphemy against Taseer, and whether any evidence was available that lent credence to such accusations.
Qadri's counsel Justice (retd) Mian Nazir Akhtar contended that something had happened just before Taseer was killed since none of the other elite force personnel present at the scene reacted to Qadri's action. He argued that punishing a blasphemer was a religious duty enjoined on everyone.
The counsel argued that in blasphemy cases, words also matter though intention to commit a crime may not be as relevant. He argued that the accused was a straightforward man who had a justification for killing the former governor, admitting that whatever he did was in accordance with the dictates of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace by upon him) because he was convinced that the victim had committed blasphemy by calling the blasphemy law "a black law".