SHC issues notices on plea seeking Dua Zahra’s custody

July 07, 2022

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the advocate general, the prosecutor general and others on a petition filed by the father of Dua Zahra, a Karachi-based teenage girl who had...

Share Next Story >>>

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday issued notices to the advocate general, the prosecutor general and others on a petition filed by the father of Dua Zahra, a Karachi-based teenage girl who had married a Lahore-based man, seeking his daughter’s custody because she is under age.

Dua’s father Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi said in the petition that his daughter is under age, which has been proved through a medical report, so her marriage cannot be deemed as valid. Kazmi claimed that Zaheer Ahmed had kidnapped his daughter from Karachi and forced her to marry him in Punjab by falsely declaring her age to be 18 years.

He said that a medical board constituted on the orders of the court had opined that Dua’s age was near to 15 years, which proved that she was under age and her marriage could not be declared lawful even under Punjab’s marriage registration act.

He also said that the investigating officer is not conducting the investigation in accordance with the law, as he has made no effort to arrest Ahmed and rescue his daughter from the illegal confinement. He requested the court to direct the police to rescue the underage girl from the custody of her alleged husband and hand her over to her lawful guardian.

His counsel sought a court injunction requesting to direct the federal government not to issue a passport to the girl and restrain her husband from shifting her custody from the jurisdiction of Pakistan. After the preliminary hearing of the petition, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro issued notices to the advocate general, the prosecutor general and others, calling for their comments on July 21.

Earlier, the SHC had turned down the request of Dua’s parents for the cancellation of her marriage, saying that the court could not determine the factual disputes because they might affect and prejudice the interest of any of the parties. The court had observed that the aggrieved parties, if any, were always at liberty to contest the same before a competent court.

The court said the parents’ petition had apparently served its purpose, as it was only to the extent of the whereabouts of the girl, who had already been produced in court, where she categorically stated on oath that she was not kidnapped but had married Ahmed.

Charge sheet

In the case pertaining to the alleged abduction and underage marriage of Dua Zahra, a judicial magistrate on Wednesday directed the investigating officer to submit a supplementary charge sheet by July 20.

The teenage girl had gone missing from her Karachi home in April and was later found to have married a man in Punjab. Her purported husband Zaheer Ahmed was booked for allegedly abducting her from Karachi on April 16, and local cleric Hafiz Ghulam Mustafa and two other people over the girl’s alleged underage marriage.

As the case came up for hearing before Judicial Magistrate (East) Aftab Ahmed Bughio, DSP Shaukat Shahani (the IO of the case) said he is yet to receive a certified copy of the report of a 10-member medical board regarding the determination of the girl’s age. He said he wished to carry out further investigation into the case in the light of the report, and then submit a supplementary charge sheet. The magistrate directed him to wrap up the investigation and submit the supplementary challan by the next date of hearing.

On June 25 the court had directed the IO to carry out further investigation into the case to determine if Dua was enticed to leave her parents’ house as claimed by her father Syed Ali Mehdi Kazmi. The medical board in its report submitted to the court earlier this week said the girl is between 15 and 16 years.

On the basis of physical examination, the girl’s age is between 15 and 16 years, on the basis of dentition and OPG (orthopantomogram) examination, her dental age is between 13 and 15 years, and on the basis of epiphyseal closure assessed on radiological examination, the bone age is between 16 and 17 years, the panel had declared.

Separately, an additional district & sessions judge sought arguments on bail applications of Mustafa, who had solemnised the girl’s marriage, and Asghar Ali, who was one of the two witnesses to the marriage. Both are in judicial custody.

Social activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir filed his Vakalatnama (power of attorney) on behalf of the complainant. The court adjourned the matter until Thursday (today), when defence and prosecution lawyers are required to forward their arguments on the matter.

More From Karachi