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SHC repeats notice to Sindh Child Protection Authority in child marriage case

By Our Correspondent
January 30, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued repeated notices to the Sindh Child Protection Authority (SCPA) and parents of a teenage girl on a petition of Zaheer Ahmed who sought custody of his wife in case pertaining to allegations of underage marriage.

Ahmed, who is facing kidnapping and underage marriage charges, submitted in the petition that he had married a teenage girl with her free will but her family members being annoyed with the marriage had registered a kidnapping and child marriage case against him.

He submitted that the teenage girl was his legal wife under the Islamic law and she could not be separated from him without her consent. He also sought protection from his in-laws and requested the high court to direct the police to provide protection to him, his wife and family members.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto observed that notice were not served to the respondents and directed the office to repeat the notices to the SCPA and parents and called their comments on February 21.

It is pertinent to mention that another bench of the SHC had on January 6 granted interim custody of the teenage girl to her parents. The order had come on an application filed by Syed Mehdi Ali, the girl’s father, for her custody when the girl was residing at a shelter home following the registration of a kidnapping and underage marriage case against her Ahmed by the Karachi police.

According to the police, Ahmed kidnapped the girl in the Al-Falah Colony area with the connivance of other co-accused and married her in Lahore. When the teenage girl gave her consent to live with her parents, the high court ordered to hand over the interim custody of the girl to her parents who had given an undertaking to provide her all comforts as well as safety and security. In addition, the bench also instructed the parents to furnish a bond to the sum of Rs1 million.

The high court also made clear that the interim order was subjected to the final decision to be made by the guardian and ward court, Karachi, where the relevant application for the permanent custody of the girl was pending. The SHC observed that the court order would not affect any other miscellaneous questions and their solution to be raised by either party before the family court.

To ensure the well-being of the girl, the SHC further ordered for a visit of a child protection officer at her parents’ home every Saturday along with a lady police officer not below the rank of inspector and instructed the officer to submit a report regularly before the family court.