February 11th, 2022
By Ahmed Saeed
The world first heard about Asma when she filed a case against his father Malik Ghulam Jillani’s detention during General Yahya Khan’s Martial Law.
On her petition, the Supreme Court declared the martial law unconstitutional and Yahya Khan a usurper.
Asma then decided to study law and dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of the marginalized communities especially for women, children, and minorities.
Asma Jahangir founded a law firm AGHS to provide free legal aid to those who need it the most.
Asma fought many legal battles which helped in reforming the laws and thousands continue to benefit from them to date.
In 1990, Asma successfully represented Darshan Masih in a case related to bonded labor. The court ruled that a bonded laborer could approach the court through informal means, even a telegram.
It was also ruled that the system of work at a brick kiln fell into the category of forced labor. This case paved the way for the Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1992.
In 1995, a session court gave the death penalty to two blasphemy accused, 12-year old Salamat Masih and Rehmat Masih.
Lawyers were afraid to represent the accused in the high court. Asma again came forward and filed an appeal against the convictions in the Lahore High Court.
Asma was attacked for pursuing the case but she remained undeterred and secured an acquittal for both of the accused.
In 1996, Saima Waheed who was 22 years old and a master’s degree holder, married a man of her own will. Saima’s conservative family rejected the Union and she had to flee her home to save her life. Her father filed a habeas corpus petition and demanded the return of his daughter.
Saima’s father pleaded that marriage without the consent of wali was not valid in Islam and as such must be declared void.
Asma Jahangir represented Saima in that case and after a tough and arduous legal battle, the LHC decided the case in favor of Saima and declared her marriage legal.
Latter the Supreme Court held that any girl over 18 years of age can marry of her own will rendering a wali unrequired.
This landmark case proved to be monumental in safeguarding the rights of women in the years to come.