LHC restrains Zardari from pardoning Aasia

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday issuing stay order on President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Aasia Bibi in the blasphemy case has summoned the federation and Governor Punjab on Dec 6. The court was hearing a petition by one Shahid Siddiq. The petitioner had requested the court to halt the possibility of a pardon for Aasia by President Zardari. The petitioners counsel argued that statements issued by government representatives pertaining to the possibility of a presidential pardon were disrespectful of the judiciary. According to Article 45 of the Constitution of Pakistan, Aasia Bibi cannot be pardoned as her case is sub judice, the petition stated. The petition further stated that President Zardari does not have the authority to pardon those convicted of blasphemy. The LHC subsequently issued an ad interim order that Aasia could not be released on presidential orders as her case was sub judice. The petitioner also termed Punjab Governor Salman Taseers call to pardon Aasia as illegal. The courts verdict is against Aasia and Governor Taseer, terming her innocent, has called for a pardon, which is illegal, the petition stated. LHC Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif after hearing the argument issued stay order and said the case is sub judice in Lahore High Court after which it can be brought into the Supreme Court. The court further said that till the verdict on the case is made Governor Punjab should restrain from any such activity hindering the court procedure and even the President has no authority to pardon Aasia bibi. The court has therefore sought an explanation of the call for pardon from Governor Taseer and the federation by December 6.

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