Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blasphemy law in Pakistan

Active since 1860, British Colonial Rule in Subcontinent

Before commenting upon Blasphemy Law in Pakistan, it is pertinent to understand that judicial system in Pakistan has been influenced from British colonial period. Pakistan Penal Code is derived from British Penal Code (written by British Raj to govern sub continent), which was written in 1860. In 1860, blasphemy law was retained in Indian Penal Code under section 295, which provided protection to religious places, sculptures and personage of all religions.
Religious demonstration ( Blasphemy law)
Pakistan is an Islamic State. Islamic Republic of Pakistan uses Pakistan Penal Code to prohibit and punish blasphemy. Criminal Code provides penalties to the blasphemer from death to fine. Under Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Article 2, state religion is Islam and under Constitution Article 31, it is country’s duty to promote Islamic way of life. Article 33 of the constitution it is country’s duty to discourage any parochial, tribal, racial, sectarian and provisional prejudice among the citizens. These are the main Constitutional articles providing baseline to the citizens of Pakistan in their Islamic way of living.  
Amendments and additions.
Criminal Law (amendment) Act XXV in 1927 inserted two sections under section 295.
            i. 295 (A) prohibits "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs."
General (Late) Zia ul Haq
            ii.295(B) deals with Defiling of Holy Quran
b.           Under General (Late) Zia ul Haq regime amendments were made in sec 295 (B), extending penalty option to life imprisonment; in sec 295 (C), which outlaws “derogatory remarks on holy prophet (S.A.W)”. in 1986, a minor amendment in sec 295(C) added death penalty.
c.           In 1992, once Mian Nawaz Sharif was in government, amendment was made to include mandatory death penalty on proved blasphemer for derogatory remarks on holy prophet (S.A.W).

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