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In a landmark decision, the Supreme court of Pakistan has upheld its decision in favour of Asia Bibi, who was charged with blasphemy and was on a death sentence.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel tossed out the petition against the top court’s decision that was made last October, to free Asia Bibi from death row.

The petitioner, Qari Muhammad Salam, had argued that Bibi confessed to her crimes during the investigation and that a delay in lodging the First Information Request (FIR) did not imply that the defendant was not guilty of the crime. The petitioner, who is a preacher of a mosque in a village in Nankana Sahib tehsil, had also sought to put her name on the Exit Control List until a final decision on the review petition was made.

At the outset of Tuesday’s hearing, Qari’s lawyer Ghulam Mustafa presented his arguments before the bench, demanding that a larger bench comprising of Islamic scholars, be constituted to hear the petition. In response to the arguments of Mustafa, the Chief Justice of Pakistan asked “how is this a matter of religion” and that “the verdict was given on the basis of testimony.” “Does Islam say that one should be punished even if they are found not guilty? Prove to us what [you believe] is wrong with the verdict,” asked CJP Khosa.

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