Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has declined the request for an early hearing of Asia Bibi’s case.
Asia’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, confirmed to The Express Tribune that the early hearing request for his client has been rejected. He said that he moved an early hearing application two weeks ago, wherein it was requested that Asia’s case be fixed for the first week of June.
“Today I have been informed that the plea was declined by the CJP,” Malook stated.
Asia, in her early hearing application, had stated that she had been imprisoned for the last eight years. She also claimed innocence and noted that she is the mother of two daughters.
Asia, a Christian fruit picker from Sheikhupura, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010 after an argument with a Muslim woman over a glass of water. Her supporters maintain her innocence and insist she was falsely accused due to a personal dispute with the accuser.
But successive appeals have been rejected, and if the Supreme Court bench upholds 51-year-old Asia’s conviction, her only recourse will be a direct appeal to the president for clemency.
The last time her case was taken up, was on October 13, by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman and Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik.
The hearing, however, was quickly adjourned because a member of the bench – Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman – had recused himself as he was the CJ of the Islamabad High Court when it heard the Salman Taseer assassination case. Punjab Governor Taseer had pleaded for her case to be retried and was shot dead by his security guard, in January 2011. The guard cited Taseer’s interest in the Asia Bibi case as his motive.