A Zimbabwean magistrate has upheld an application for exception to charges of inciting people to commit violence filed by opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who was arrested before the nationwide anti-corruption protests in July last year.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Harare magistrate Vongai Guwuriro also ordered the state to amend its charge sheet so that it clearly specifies the particularities which created the alleged offence.
Magistrate Guwuriro’s order came after Ngarivhume’s lawyer Moses Nkomo filed an application excepting to the charges stating that “they are infested with a dearth of particularity and do not inform the opposition political party leader of the exact nature and scope of the criminal allegations against him.”
Police arrested Ngarivhume on July and accused him of inciting Zimbabweans to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government through unconstitutional means.
In his application, Nkomo argued that the main count of incitement to commit public violence as defined in Section 187 (1) (a) as read with section 36 (1)(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, wherein it is alleged that between May 2020 to July 2020, Ngarivhume communicated some messages to the general public on Twitter intending to persuade or induce members of the public to disturb the peace, security or order of the public, “is a legal nullity which offends against the provisions of Section 146(1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.”
The provisions require that “each count of the indictment, summons or charge shall set forth the offence with which the accused is charged in such manner and with such particulars as to the alleged time and place of committing the offence … as maybe reasonably sufficient to inform the accused of the nature of that charge.”
Nkomo argued that the state is on a fishing expedition as the charges do not cover the essential elements which requires an element of force, which is absent in the charge and that Ngarivhume did not advocate for the forcible or violent removal of the government, and neither did he advocate for violent protests.
He contended that Ngarivhume is a politician whose mandate is to challenge the misdeeds of government and that it was in the exercise of his constitutionally guaranteed rights to call for peaceful demonstrations against corruption and looting of national resources.
He argued that by calling for the anti-looting demonstration, Ngarivhume was constitutionally entitled to do so as freedom to petition and demonstrate is protected by Section 59 of the Constitution and that the criminalisation of his exercise of his political rights infringes on his constitutional rights.
Nkomo said prosecuting Ngarivhume is an egregious abuse of the criminal justice system as amplifying the fight against corruption in a democratic society should not be criminalised and that his call was for a genuine and concerted fight against the scourge of corruption, a call which has been persistently made by government.
Ngarivhume, who spent several weeks in remand prison before he was granted bail, returns to court on December 14th, 2021.
Uttar Pradesh Police embarks on reforms to expedite trial, release on bail | Lucknow News – Times of India
LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh Police has embarked on a series of comprehensive reforms to pave the way for a swifter and more transparent trial system by weeding out the procedural impediments blocking the benefits of the use of technology and automation.
DGP Mukul Goel chaired a high-level a meeting with DG, prisons, Anand Kumar, ADG, law and order, Prashant Kumar, and senior officers at the DGP headquarters recently to review the status of digitisation and use of technology to fast-track and streamline various processes and communication between police, prisons and courts.
Senior police official’s privy to the minutes of the meeting said the important items on the agenda were related to the prisons department, including release of prisoners on bail orders received through email from the Supreme Court, preparation of custody certificate and database of prisoners released on bail.
‘Proposal to amend provision sent to govt’
DG, prisons, Anand Kumar said the issue of delay in release of prisoners granted bail by higher courts was discussed and the provision in para 99 of the jail manual that necessitates validation of the bail order by the trial court for its execution in such cases was found to be leading to the delay.
“The provision needs to be amended and a proposal has been sent to the government. Once the amendment takes place, there will be no delay in releasing prisoners on receiving the bail order through email,” he added.
He added that following the orders of the Supreme Court, custody certificate of every prisoner carrying all details has been prepared on the prescribed proforma.
DGP Mukul Goel issued instructions to speed up investigation while maintaining high quality and directed senior officers to conduct a drive in December to reduce the pendency of investigation of cases. He instructed ADG training to impart regular training to all investigation officers.
The DGP also stressed on mentioning phone numbers of all government officials in the chargesheet so that they can be informed about the date of their deposition in court since serving of summons leads to delay due to frequent transfers. Summons can be served via WhatsApp, saving time and resources, he said.
IG technical Mohit Agrawal said online submission of chargesheets has already begun. DGP Goel said the reasons for procedural delay that hold up filing of chargesheet should be discussed in the district monitoring committee meeting for resolving it.
“We have embarked on a futuristic strategy to evolve better synergy between police, prison and prosecution through maximum use of technology to automate the criminal justice system and assisting the judiciary in expediting trials leading to better convictions.”
Covid News Live Updates: Maharashtra reports its first case of Omicron variant; India tally reaches 4 – Economic Times
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Jaisalmer | PM made a very big decision that cards be issued to CAPF jawans & their families. Through that, they & their families can avail treatment at any hospital for any disease. With a swipe of the card at the hospital, the process will begin: HM at Rohitash Border outpost
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Odisha: Some people take refuge in a shelter home in Puri set up by the state government in wake of Jawad Cyclone
As per the latest update by IMD, the cyclonic storm would weaken gradually during the next 6 hours, and reach near Puri around 5th December noon as a Deep Depression.
Employment is going to be the biggest issue in these elections. I give you a guarantee that within a short span of time we’ll give you a vision. All men have eyes, few have vision..:
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Leaders of all farmer orgs said that they won’t go back unless cases against farmers are withdrawn. Today a clear cut signal has been sent out to Govt that we’re not going to take back the agitation unless all cases against farmers are taken back.
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SKM says farmers will not move from protest sites till government withdraws cases registered against them during stir against farm laws.
Delhi reports 51 new COVID-19 cases, 61 recoveries and zero deaths in the last 24 hours.
Total cases 14,41,295
Total recoveries 14,15,875
Death toll 25,098
Active cases 322
Following first case of Omicron in Jamnagar, Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel reviewed the readiness of state health system, at a high-level meeting. He instructed to strictly implement new guidelines issued by the Government of India regarding Omicron variant in the state: CMO
West Bengal | Police baton-charge on youth who were not standing in a queue to submit forms for jobs in the Berhampore Stadium of Murshidabad district
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— ANI (@ANI) 1638617038000
Delhi court grants bail to Peter Mukerjea in INX Media money laundering case
The Jawad Cyclone was observed moving northwards in the past 1 hour &will continue the same for the next 12 hours. Weakening trend in the intensity of the cyclone & expected to hit the coastal regions of Puri tomorrow and will weaken gradually.
– HR Biswas Director IMD Bhubaneshwar
SKM has formed a 5-member committee to talk to the Govt of India. It’ll be the authorised body to talk to the Government. The committee will have Balbir Singh Rajewal, Shiv Kumar Kakka, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Yudhvir Singh & Ashok Dhawale. Next meeting of SKM on 7th December
– Rakesh Tikait
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Dehradun | PM Modi inspects the model of the Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor. The corridor will be built at a cost… https://t.co/7D1rhQccSe
— ANI (@ANI) 1638604714000
I’d like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to be more active in preventing drugs smuggling & detecting toxic wastes that come into India, in time
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PM Modi inaugurates Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor
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AP CM Jagan, Chandra Babu Naidu mourn Rosaiah
Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu and a host of others on Saturday expressed profound grief over the demise of Konijeti Rosaiah, who served as the CM of the then united AP.
Former Andhra Pradesh CM Konijeti Rosaiah passes away at 89
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Continuous rains witnessed across the district, windspeeds of 50kmph at few locations; 79 cyclone shelters operation since yesterday. NDRF, SDRF, fire teams on alert and deployed across the district
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Explained: The second violent run-in for Sri Lanka in Pakistan and lessons for India – The Indian Express
Priyantha Diyawadana Kumara, from Gampaha district near Colombo, an engineer and father of two, was on Friday beaten to death and his body burnt by a mob of hundreds, some of the workers at his factory, who accused him of committing blasphemy.
From the Prime Minister, to the chief of Army Staff, and others, even minister Sheikh Rasheed, a proud supporter of jihadist extremism, all stood unequivocally united in the condemnation of the incident, and promised swift action.
While Pakistan’s progressive civil society has always stood against such incidents as going to the core of what is broken within, this is perhaps the first time that a killing in the name of blasphemy has elicited such unanimous and unequivocal condemnation from the political class and the powerful army.
The strong official reactions may be due to the fact that the victim was a foreign national, from a South Asian country with which Islamabad has gone the extra mile to build ties. Pakistan is hyper-conscious about projecting a progressive image abroad.
This is the second time in the last 15 years that Sri Lanka, which has fair people-to-people ties with Islamabad, has found itself wrong-footed by Pakistan’s extremist violence. Pakistan is only too conscious of this. In the world of cricket, it is still paying a heavy price for the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 – other than the Zimbabwe team last year, Pakistan has not since been able to host a single foreign team, with the Kiwis too pulling out in September this year after a security alert.
But even at the time of the cricket bus attack, the strong ties between the two countries cushioned bilateral relations. Colombo has little regard for the IPKF. It remembers more the “parippu drop” over Jaffna, when the Indian Air Force dropped food supplies to Tamils when the Sri Lankan army had laid siege on the northern peninsula in 1985, but it has never forgotten that Pakistan provided weapons and munitions and trained Lankan Air Force pilots for Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE.
Sri Lanka was subdued in its reaction to the killing of Priyantha Kumara. It took a full day for President Gotabaya Rajapakasa to break his silence and tweet that he was “deeply concerned by the incident in Sialkot #Pakistan. #SriLanka trusts that PM @ImranKhanPTI and the Gvt. Of Pakistan will ensure justice is served and the ensure the safety of the remaining Sri Lankan workers in Pakistan”. Before that the Sri Lankan foreign ministry asked Pakistani authorities to “take the required action to investigate and ensure justice”. Earlier, Foreign ministry spokesperson Sugeeshwara Gunaratna said the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad was in the process of verifying details of the incident from Pakistani authorities.
Deeply concerned by the incident in Sialkot #Pakistan. #SriLanka trusts that PM @ImranKhanPTI and the Gvt. of Pakistan will ensure justice is served and ensure the safety of the remaining Sri Lankan workers in Pakistan.
— Gotabaya Rajapaksa (@GotabayaR) December 4, 2021
Pakistan has promised swift action against the perpetrators. Some 100 people said to be part of the mob and two of the main instigators have been arrested, the Pakistani media have reported.
However, Pakistan’s regressive and draconian anti-blasphemy law is loaded against the person against whom the allegation is made. In well-known cases that attract international attention and are thought to be spoiling the country’s already fragile image abroad, the system steps in to protect the alleged blasphemer, sometimes with prodding from western powers, and if there has been violence, to hand out punishment to the perpetrators.
The most famous example of the way this law, the law enforcers, the government, and the judicary work is that of Aasia Naureen, better known as Aasia Bibi, who was arrested in 2009 after her co-workers alleged she had committed blasphemy. She was sentenced to death by a lower court. The punishment was confirmed by the Lahore High Court. It was only under tremendous international pressure at a time that Pakistan was negotiating an IMF bailout, that the Supreme Court took her review petition and ruled there was not enough evidence against her.
Protests broke out at the acquittal, roads were blocked by extremist groups such as Tehreek-eLabbaik. Aasia had to remain in custody for the next six months because of fears she would be killed. Prime Minister Imran Khan had to make repeated assurances that she would not be allowed to leave the country. Finally, she had to be spirited away from Pakistan to Canada secretly.
Unlike Aasia, in many cases, alleged blasphemers may not live to see jail or a courtroom, and their killers go scot-free. In the rare cases where punishment to the perpetrators is handed out, they are celebrated as “gazi”, religious warriors by the military-backed politically vocal and visible sections of Pakistan’s religious, conservative Muslims.
Mumtaz Qadri, the police bodyguard who was hanged for the 2011 killing Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab province (who was accused of blasphemy for speaking up in support of Asia Bibi) is held up as a martyr. The silent majority of Sunni Muslims may not support such glorification even if they are staunch believers, but they are silent.
Qadri’s execution led to the founding of Tehreek-e-Labbaik, which regularly holds the government to ransom by bringing out its supporters on the streets. During one such protest in 2017, the ISI brokered a deal between the group and the government of the day, making the government pledge that it would not dilute anti-blasphemy laws. The government had to recently lift a ban on the group.
Mashal Khan case
In March 2017, Pakistan was convulsed just as it is now by the killing of a 23-year-old journalism student in a college in Mardan, in Khyber Pakthunkhwa province. Mashal Khan and two of his friends had been accused by fellow students of posting blasphemous content online. They were attacked on campus by students and Mashal Khan was lynched. His friends escaped with injuries.
Nawaz Sharif, then prime minister of the country, condemned the incident as saddening and senseless, and asked the entire country to stand together to promote tolerance in society, but a month earlier, he called it an “unpardonable offence”. It was the outpouring of public solidarity for him, the huge turnout for his funeral, and the strong reaction in his village to the killing that put pressure on the police to round up the killers. In all 61 people were arrested, one was sentenced to death, and seven others to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court.
In 2014, Rashid Rehman, a well-known human rights lawyer defending an accused in a blasphemy case, was shot dead. His killers have never been brought to justice. Rehman’s client, Junaid Hafeez, a university teacher, who was arrested in 2013, was sentenced to death in 2019 by the lower court, where a blasphemy case rarely ends in acquittal. In the trial courts, judges fear for their lives if they let an accused go. Mostly judges delay the cases till their transfer. Law enforcers, witnesses, jailers all worry for their safety in blasphemy cases.
Just in September, a 50-year-old Muslim woman was sentenced to death for an alleged blasphemous act in 2013. The woman, who was a school principal was accused by a local imam for describing herself as a “prophetess”. In January, three men were convicted of blasphemy for sharing allegedly blasphemous content on social media, the first case of conviction for online blasphemy in Pakistan. With a precedent set, the next month, a woman was accused of forwarding allegedly blasphemous material on WhatsApp.
Section 295A: The blasphemy law
In September, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed concern at the surge in blasphemy cases being registered. It said 40 cases had been registered in August alone. According to estimates by NGOs, some 1,800 cases of blasphemy have been registered since 1977, when the blasphemy law was made stricter.
Law enforcers know Section 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code which deals with blasphemy is widely misused by religious fanatics against members of minority communities – Ahmadi, Shia Hindus Christians – and against Muslims too, to settle personal scores. For the accused, prison is often a safer place than freedom as they live under constant threat to their lives. Just this week, two days before the Sri Lankan’s killing, a mob burnt down a police station in Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where a man who had allegedly torn up a Koran was being held. The police had refused to hand over the man to the mob which was baying for his blood outside, growing in size as the day progressed. The police had to flee the station along with the man just before the station went up in flames.
Pakistan inherited Section 295 A from the colonial-era 1927 anti-hate speech section in the Indian Penal Code following the Rangila Rasool episode. In the Zia era, this section was further expanded to cover more offences under blasphemy and the death sentence introduced as one of the penalties (India has kept the original section). Some believe that the death sentence encourages people to take the law into their own hands for instant “justice”.
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No Pakistani politician wants to take the risk of trying to repeal the blasphemy laws, though most recognise that it is not in keeping with the image of modernity that the nation wants to project. Even the military ruler Pervex Musharraf backed off though he gave it serious consideration. Now as then, it is considered politically unwise and personally hazardous. Years of pandering to extremists has literally disabled the Pakistani state on this issue.
Cautionary tale for India
Pakistan’s experience on its blasphemy law is a cautionary tale for those who want to bring similar laws in India. Despite all advice, Punjab enacted a blasphemy law in 2018 to appease religious sentiment after several cases of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib. Disrespect shown to the Sikh holy book, the Bhagvad Gita, Bible and Koran are all punishable with life imprisonment. An earlier legislation brought in by the Akali Dal did not get presidential assent as it was specific to the Guru Granth Sahib, and it was returned with the comment that all religions are to be treated equally. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s recent demand for an anti-blasphemy law has received a strong push back from within the Muslim community, with prominent voices warning against the dangers of such a law. In a statement signed by more than 400 people, a majority of them Muslim, the Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy said there was no need for such a law as Muslims had every right to invoke Section 295-A in the Indian penal Code to deal with any complaints. The statement pointed to the “notorious blasphemy law in neighbouring Pakistan which is frequently used to hound individuals from religious minorities and even fellow Muslims with sectarian and personal motives”.
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