Sunday, February 3, 2013

Maria Zulfiqar Khan's Illegal and unconstitutional raid

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

It is a tragedy that seemingly reasonable young women in the media have taken to acting like vigilantes. I do not wish to comment on what compulsions there exist for these women to resort to such behavior, but I will comment on the patent illegality of TV Vigilantes.

First of all these actions of TV Vigilantes violate Article 14 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Privacy of a private premises is inviolable under the constitution as well as under Islam.  The Supreme Court of Pakistan had struck down on the Hasba Bill on the grounds that it violated human dignity, liberty and privacy. In what is a landmark judgment on privacy rights,  the Supreme Court ruled that an Islamic state has no mandate in infringing personal space, liberty and privacy. Maria Zulfiqar Khan not only violated the privacy of what was a private premises but enlisted the help of the state i.e. police officials in doing so.

Even within the Islamic jurisprudence the question of vigilante raids does not arise. A simple analysis of Islamic law of evidence as it exists for adultery shows that the spirit of Islamic law is not to invade privacy but to regulate public morality. According to the standard of evidence required in cases pertaining to adultery - 4 witnesses fulfilling the highest standard of probity i.e. tazkia tul shahood are required and they should witness the act of sexual intercourse i.e. penetration with their own eyes. The question of 4 witnesses who fulfill that standard entering into a private premises and gawking at a sex act does not arise. Therefore the adultery law can only come into play in the crudest and very public display of sexual act and everything else is between man/woman and god.

So if the constitution does not allow it, Supreme Court forbids it and God's own law explicitly rules it out, on what authority are TV anchors like Maria Zulfiqar Khan playing God?

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