Leveling Blasphemy Charges Against Innocent is Crime: High Court

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday remarked that leveling blasphemy charges against innocent people was also a crime and directed to ensure that an innocent person must not be wrongly accused of it.

IHC was hearing a case relating to blasphemous content on social media.

Secretary Interior Mohammad Arif Khan, PTA Chairman Syed Ismail Shah, IG Islamabad Tariq Masood Yasin, and senior officials from the information technology (IT) ministry appraised the court on Monday about the progress they have made so far in connection with the case.

Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, who is hearing the case, said those guilty of blasphemy would not escape. Director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and IG Islamabad were directed to exercise extreme precaution while identifying blasphemers.

“Falsely accusing someone of blasphemy is an offense as serious as blasphemy itself. Anyone who committed blasphemy will not be able to dodge the law. We will pass an order so that no one will dare to do it in the future,” he said.

During the hearing, Ministry of Interior Secretary remarked that 70 controversial pages on social networking sites have been blocked so far.

The Director FIA told the court that intelligence agencies have information regarding such content, however, the matter is in inquiry stages and no FIR has been lodged yet.

The official further said that they were also pondering drafting a petition as per international laws and take the matter to an international court. In response to this statement, the court directed him to ensure that any innocent is not falsely accused of blasphemy.

It also advised the Ministry of Information to specify in electronic and print media the restrictions on freedom of speech under the Article 19 of the Constitution and the punishment in case of any violation.

Article 19 relates to the right of information for all citizens. The article states, “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.”

The hearing was adjourned till March 17.