Law Points

Compact disks were relied upon by the Trial Court without forensic analysis/verification | Acquitted

P L D 2018 Lahore 28
Before: Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Sardar Ahmad Naeem, JJ
MUHAMMAD ASGHAR—Appellant
Versus
The STATE and others—Respondents

     (a) Penal Code (XLV of 1860)—
—-S. 295-C—Derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)—Appreciation of
evidence—Benefit of doubt—Accused made the alleged objectionable statement and furnished written
material in the presence of a gathering, therefore, it was mind boggling that after taking serious
exception to the blasphemous conduct and snatching the impugned material, people in the gathering let
the accused, who was in his late sixties, leave the venue scot-free—Complainant took six weeks to
inform the police about the alleged incident, and throughout such period, comfortably kept the
derogatory material with him—Complainant and accused were also involved in litigation against each
other, which fact was withheld in the FIR—Documentary evidence against the accused comprising of
visiting cards, letter and compact disks did not support the charge—Said documentary evidence had
been presented to the investigating officer at a belated stage by no other than the complainant himself—
Compact disks were relied upon by the Trial Court without forensic analysis/verification and thus their
contents could not be relied upon with any degree of certainty—Such devices could be conveniently
contrived with little skill and without much labour—Prosecution also claimed that the accused confessed
his guilt before a journalist who saved the same in a compact disk, however, neither the journalist
entered the witness box nor the person who prepared the disk—Prosecution case far from evidentiary
certainty was fraught with doubts and it would be unsafe to maintain the conviction of accused in such
circumstances—Consequently, by extending benefit of doubt, conviction of accused was set aside, and
he was acquitted from the charge.
(b) Criminal Procedure Code (V of 1898)—
—-S. 342—Power of court to examine the accused—Scope and purpose—Examination of an accused
(under S. 342, Cr.P.C.) confronting indictment was a beneficial arrangement; it ensured that an accused
was not taken by surprise; it was designed to acquaint him with the evidence against him so as to
possibly vindicate his position—Such process was not to be used by the Trial Court to extract admission
(of guilt) from the accused by overriding all the safeguards available to him under the regime of fair
trial.
(c) Criminal Procedure Code (V of 1898)—
—-S. 340(2)—Constitution of Pakistan, Art. 13(b)—Right of person against whom proceedings are
instituted to appear as witness—Scope—Protection against self-incrimination—Under the Constitution
and the law, there was an unqualified and unconditional protection against self-incrimination and the
provisions of S. 340(2), Cr.P.C. were designed merely to enable an accused to offer himself as a witness
in disproof of the charge alone and not in support thereof—Such exercise was not to be carried out after administration of oath upon the accused with the option of cross-examination

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