A sessions court in Lahore has awarded a Muslim woman the death penalty on Monday for blasphemy under the 295C section of the country's penal code.
A prayer leader in Nishtar Colony registered a case in 2013 against the school principal, Salma Tanveer, after they say she published and distributed pamphlets denying the finality of the prophethood and claiming her own prophethood, reported The Express Tribune on Tuesday.
Tanveer was arrested and charged with blasphemy. Her lawyer appealed that she was not in sound mind, a fact the medical board agreed with saying she was not fit for trial. However, according to the Tribune story, two years later, with no movement in the trial, the jail authorities wrote to the board saying that after another examination, she was declared fit for trial.
When the trial began, the defense argued she was not of sound mind while the prosecution said that the accused was allowed to run her school during the period, travel and, as Tribune reports "also given the right of property dealing with her husband adopting all due process."
After hearing both sides, Additional District & Sessions Judge Mansoor Ahmad Qureshi found the woman guilty and said her defense counsel failed to prove that she was of unsound mind.
According to a story in Dawn on Tuesday, he wrote in his verdict: “It is proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused Salma Tanveer wrote and distributed the writings which are derogatory in respect of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and she failed to prove that her case falls in exception provided by section 84 of PPC.”
Section 84 deals with offenses committed by a person of unsound mind.
Blasphemy remains a divisive issue in Pakistan and there are reports the charge is misused to settle personal scores. At least 77 people have died around accusations of blasphemy which also includes families of lawyers and judges have been targets.
According to a 2019 report by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom, there were 80 convicts on death row or serving life imprisonment terms in Pakistan for committing “blasphemy”
Earlier this year an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad awarded the death sentences to three people for blasphemous social media posts.