The Supreme Court has decided to review the punishment for drinking alcoholic beverages. A five-judge appellate bench – headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan – on Thursday heard the government’s appeal against a verdict of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), which had declared that whipping for the offence of drinking was un-Islamic.

The FSC had given ruling on a Shariat petition by Dr M Aslam Khaki, who had challenged different provisions of the Prohibition Order (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance 1979, in which drinking was provided as Hadd, punishable with 80 lashes.

The FSC agreeing with the petitioner had declared the provisions of 80 lashes as un-Islamic.

The federal government, filing an appeal against FSC judgment, has contended that the FSC did not give any notice to the government with regard to examining Article 8 of the order and section 4 of the ‘whipping ordinance’. “The government has been condemned unheard on this issue,” said the appeal.

The government has also contended that the FSC was not competent to go beyond the scope of the Shariat petition and gave judgment without lawful authority and jurisdiction.

During the first hearing of the case on Thursday, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that there was no absolute prohibition of drinking in the Quran as it was only restraint. He said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did not award punishment to any drinker.

“The punishment of 40 stripes was awarded first time in the era of Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) and it was raised to 80 lashes by Hazrat Umar (RA),” he added.

The bench also hinted at reviewing the punishment for the offence of drinking and asked Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mahmood and petitioner Dr Aslam Khaki to assist it on this matter.

The hearing of the case will resume next week.