More Information
ISBN: 9781783685424
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 15
Publication Date: 14/03/2019
Pages: 286
Language: English

The Evolution of Legislation on Religious Offences

A Study of British India and the Implications for Contemporary Pakistan


The laws and legislation in Pakistan related to religious offences are intended to protect all religious communities, but have also become a significant threat to communities of religious minorities who are vulnerable to false accusation, violent retribution outside of the judicial system, and erroneous convictions that sometimes even lead to the death penalty. What is not well known is how these laws came about; from originally being designed in Chapter XV of the Pakistan Penal Code, to safeguard all religions of British India. Dr F. A. Nazir places the discussion of offences relating to religion in the historical context of the south Asian subcontinent, the institution of penal codes in British India during the colonial period, and developments in legislation after 1947 independence and the creation of the state of Pakistan and in postcolonialism. Dr Nazir’s historical and legal analysis demonstrates how these laws affect indigenous Christian communities and other religious minorities, including Muslim groups. Nazir’s thorough and rigorous historical research brings important understanding and reflection to contemporary religious laws, religious rights and multi-faith society in Pakistan.

Author Bios

F. A. Nazir

F. A. NAZIR has a PhD in World Christianity from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and is a lecturer and Dean of Studies at Gujranwala Theological Seminary, Pakistan. As well as serving the church through preaching, training and teaching in theological education institutions, her other significant passions are singing, music, and poetry.


In this powerful book F. A. Nazir deploys a wealth of historical and legal scholarship to show how legislation originally drafted with the utilitarian purpose of protecting India’s various religious communities from words and actions calculated to bring offence has, in the very different context of an Islamic theocratic state, become an instrument of oppression against all religious minorities. Nazir raises issues of fundamental importance for Christians, Muslims, and all those concerned with religious freedom and stability in the contemporary world.

Brian Stanley, PhD
Professor of World Christianity,
University of Edinburgh

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Part I: Origin, Development and Application of the Legislation on Offences Relating to Religion in the Indian Subcontinent
  3. Chapter 1
    1. The Legislation on Religious Offences of the Indian Penal Code
      1. 1.1 The Primary Amendments in Chapter XV in British India
      2. 1.2 Chapter XV of 1860
      3. 1.3 Section 295 to Protect the Places and Objects of Worship
        1. 1.3.1 The Accusation of Defiling a Place or Object of Worship
        2. 1.3.2 The Meaning of a Sacred Place of Worship
        3. 1.3.3 The Meaning of a Sacred Object
        4. 1.3.4 The Meaning of “Intention” of Section 295
      4. 1.4 Section 296 of IPC to Protect Religious Assemblies
        1. 1.4.1. Main Ingredients of Section 296
        2. 1.4.2. Voluntarily Causing Disturbance in Religious Worship or Religious Ceremonies under Section 296 1.4.3. Lawful Engagement of Assembly for the Performance of Religious Worship
      5. 1.5 Section 297 of IPC: Protecting Funeral Rights and the Human Corpse
        1. 1.5.1. Intention as Essence of the Offence under Section 297
        2. 1.5.2. Trespass and Prosecution
      6. 1.6 Section 298 of the IPC to Protect Against Acts Wounding Another Religion
        1. 1.6.1. Religious Freedom of Discussion under Section 298
        2. 1.6.2. The Meaning of Deliberate Intention of Wounding Religious Feelings under Section 298
        3. 1.6.3. Prosecutions and Cases under Section 298
      7. 1.7 Conclusion
  4. Chapter 2
    1. The Issue of Offensive Writing and Publication and Amendments to Religious Offences Laws in British India
      1. 2.1. Offensive Publications and the Historical Setting of Amending Chapter XV in 1920s
      2. 2.2. Section 295-A of the IPC
        1. 2.2.1. The Main Ingredients and Procedures of Section 295-A
        2. 2.2.2. Deliberate and Malicious Intention of Section 295-A
        3. 2.2.3. The Intention to Outrage and Insult in Section 295-A
      3. 2.3. The Application of Section 295-A after 1927
      4. 2.4. The Controversial Application of Section 295-A to Ban Angare
      5. 2.5. Conclusion
  5. Part II: Implications of Offences Relating to Religion from Post-1947 in the Independent Subcontinent (India and Pakistan)
  6. Chapter 3
    1. The Legacy of British Law in Independent India and Pakistan
      1. 3.1 The Application of Chapter XV of Religious Offences in India post-1947
        1. 3.1.1 The Impact of Conversion Acts on Chapter XV: Of Offences Relating to Religion
      2. 3.2 The Application of Chapter XV: Of Offences Relating to Religion in East Pakistan post-1947
      3. 3.3 Chapter XV in Bangladesh
  7. Chapter 4
    1. The Application of Chapter XV: Of Offences Relating to Religion in West Pakistan from 1947 to 1979
      1. 4.1 Religious Communities of West Pakistan
      2. 4.2 Ahmadi-Muslim Controversies and Religious Offences from 1947–1954
      3. 4.3 The Application of Chapter XV from 1956 to 1979
        1. 4.3.1 Protection of Sacred Places of Different Classes under Section 295
        2. 4.3.2 Protection of Christian Community from Offensive Publications under Section 295-A
        3. 4.3.3 Protection and Discussion of Islamic Publications and Faith under Section 295-A
      4. 4.4 The Anti-Ahmadi Riots and Religious Offences from 1974
      5. 4.5 Conclusion
  8. Part III: Implications of Offences Relating to Religion from Post-1947 in the Independent Subcontinent (India and Pakistan)
  9. Chapter 5
    1. The Legislation on Offences Relating to Religion and Islamization of Pakistan (1979–1988)
      1. 5.1 The Political Power of Zia-ul-Haq and Religious Offences
      2. 5.2 Islamization, Law and Order and the Creation of Federal Shariat Court
      3. 5.3 Amendments in Chapter XV of Pakistan Penal Code from 1980 to 1986
      4. 5.4 Section 295-B
        1. 5.4.1 The Meaning of Defile and Damage in Section 295-B
        2. 5.4.2 The Meaning of “Wilful” Action in Section 295-B
        3. 5.4.3 The Prosecution on Suspicion under Section 295-B and Mob Violence
      5. 5.5 Section 295-C
        1. 5.5.1 The Discussion over the Death Sentence and Life Imprisonment and the Issue of “Intention” in Section 295-C
        2. 5.5.2 The Meaning of Defiling the Prophet in Speech and Writing in Section 295-C
      6. 5.6 Conclusion
  10. Chapter 6
    1. The Blasphemy Law and the Question of the Protection of Religious Communities and Their Religious Rights
      1. 6.1 The Protest of Religious Communities for their Protection
      2. 6.2 Judicial Concern over the Misuse of the Blasphemy Law and the Safety of Religious Communities
      3. 6.3 Political Efforts to Bring Changes in the Legal Procedure of Blasphemy Accusations
      4. 6.4 Critical Implications of Blasphemy and Proposal for the Amendment Bill of Blasphemy from 2007–2012
      5. 6.5 Amendments to the Blasphemy Laws Act 2010
      6. 6.6. Reaction to the Amendment Bill
      7. 6.7 Conclusion
  11. Bibliography

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