Supreme Court of Pakistan: The Division Bench of Dost Muhammad Khan and Qazi Faez Isa, JJ. allowed an appeal against order convicting a person for the offence of defiling Quran, for lack of any evidence in support of offence.
Appellant herein was alleged to have desecrated the Holy Quran and was charged for an offence under Section 295-B of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 (PPC). It was alleged that he had masturbated in the centre of a mosque and then smeared his semen on the Holy Quran. Allegedly this act was seen by one Muhammad Akhtar who was deaf and dumb. The trial Court convicted the appellant and Lahore High Court affirmed the said order. Aggrieved thereby, a jail petition was filed, which was converted into an appeal by this Court.
The Court noted that the FIR, in this case, was lodged with an inexplicable delay of five days. The interpreter of Muhammad Akhtar’s sign language who, himself was a witness had not been administered any oath, which was contrary to Section 543 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. There were disagreements between witnesses regarding the date of occurrence of the offence.
It was observed that the purported confession of the accused before panchayat was after he had been kept in the custody of complainants, and beaten by them. Further, eleven pages were removed from the Holy Quran and only those pages were sent for chemical examination. Though it was confirmed that there were semen stains on the pages, no effort was made for the DNA test and semen matches. It was, thus, opined that the prosecution failed to act independently and fairly in the present case.
The Court concluded that punishment for an offence under Section 295-B PPC is imprisonment for life, therefore, it was necessary that the prosecution and the trial Court had proceeded with caution. Unfortunately, in this case even the basic parameters of proof required in a criminal case were completely disregarded.
In view of the absence of any tangible evidence, innumerable contradictions, the abject failure of the prosecution to act independently, and violation of criminal procedural laws, the conviction and sentence of appellant was held unsustainable and accordingly set aside.[Muhammad Mansha v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Pak SC 18, Order dated 15-01-2018]