A Pakistani court has sentenced a woman school principal to death for committing blasphemy after she claimed to be the next prophet.
The district and sessions court also slapped a fine of PKR 5,000 ($29) on Salma Tanvir, principal of a private school in Nishtar Colony.
Additional district and sessions Judge Mansoor Ahmad observed in the verdict that Tanvir committed blasphemy by denying that Prophet Muhammad was not the last prophet of Islam.
Lahore police in 2013 had registered a blasphemy case against Tanvir on the complaint of a local cleric. She was accused of denying the finality of Prophet Muhammad and claimed herself to be the Prophet of Islam.
Tanvir’s counsel Muhammad Ramzan argued that her client was an “unsound-minded person” and the court should have taken the fact into account.
However, a report by a medical board of the Punjab Institute of Mental Health submitted to the court by the prosecution said, “The suspect was fit to stand trial as she was not mentally deranged.”
Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws and their prescribed punishments are considered extremely severe. At least 1,472 people were charged under the blasphemy law in Pakistan since 1987.
People accused of blasphemy are usually deprived of the right to counsel of their choice, as most lawyers refuse to take up such sensitive cases.
The blasphemy laws are colonial-era legislation but they were amended by former dictator General Ziaul Haq which increased the severity of prescribed punishments.