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Mentally challenged woman accused of blasphemy: ‘Woman not presented in court for 13 years’

LAHORE: A mentally challenged woman, accused of blasphemy, has not been produced in any court of law for 13 years, her counsel told the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday.

The LHC sought a report from the Punjab home secretary on a petition seeking the release of mentally challenged blasphemy accused Zebunnisa. The court directed the home secretary to submit the report until September 29.

The court sought the report while hearing a petition seeking release on medical grounds of a blasphemy accused woman, detained in jail for the last 13 years.

The petitioner’s counsel Aftab Bajwa said in 1996, Islamabad Mahala Police had registered a case under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against Zebunnisa on charges of desecrating Quranic verses. She has been behind bars since then. He said the accused had been mentally retarded since the allegations were levelled against her.

He submitted that she had been kept in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi and then was shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore for medical treatment. Later, on January 25, 2006, the accused was shifted to the mental hospital where a medical board declared her mentally retarded.

Bajwa informed the court that the accused had already served a longer sentence than she deserved under the law.

He requested the court to release the woman on medical grounds and shift her to the Green Town Social Welfare Centre at the earliest.

Meanwhile, LHC Chief Justice (CJ) Khawaja Muhammad Sharif has taken serious notice of the LHC staff not maintaining judicial record.

The CJ had received complaints that the staff was not maintaining files properly and it was difficult to access pending documents. The CJ directed all the readers, private secretaries, personal assistants, assistant registrars and supervisory officers to ensure the completion of files in all respects before submitting them to the authorities concerned. He observed that there should be severe disciplinary action against officials not complying with the orders.
Source: Daily Times

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