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October 25, 2016

PHC acquits seven persons named in forced marriage case

National

October 25, 2016

All were charged under Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Monday acquitted seven persons of a family including nikah registrar of charges of using the custom of ‘Ghag’ to claim a girl.

‘Ghag’ is a centuries-old tradition whereby a man, without the consent of a girl or her parents, makes a declaration in public that a particular girl is engaged to him.

As a consequence, no other man dares to send a marriage proposal for the girl as it would earn him enmity of the person who made the ‘Ghag’ call. A two-member bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Musarrat Hilali acquitted the accused charged under Section 5 of the Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act 2013 after hearing arguments from both the parties and also the state lawyer.

 The bench issued directives in a quashment petition filed by Gohar Ayub and other family members through their lawyer Amin Khattak. During hearing, the petitioners’ lawyer submitted before the bench that the police charged Gohar Ayub and his family members under Section 5 of Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act 2013 and sections 419 and 420 of Pakistan Penal Code in the first information report.

 The lawyer said that Masil Khan, a resident of Mardan, had filed the FIR against Gohar Ayub and others for restraining him from giving the hand of his daughter Nasreen to Junaid Iqbal. He said the complainant claimed that Gohar Ayub through a fake nikahnama had claimed Nasreen to be his wife and used the ‘Ghag’ custom to claim the girl.  The lawyer said it was a family court case and the police had wrongly charged the petitioners under the Ghag law. He said the case was pending with the family court that would decide and examine whether the nikahnama produced by Gohar Ayub was genuine or fake.

 He noted that before registration of the FIR against the petitioner, Gohar Ayub had also lodged a complaint against Junaid Iqbal, who was going to perform nikah with the girl despite the fact that she was already in the nikah of the petitioner.

 He said that nikah of the petitioner and the girl was properly performed and there were witnesses from both sides in the nikahnama. He said that signature of Maulvi Nazeer, a nikah registrar, was there in the nikahnama.

The lawyer argued that under the law the petitioners cannot be charged under the criminal law as the proper forum was the family court in this case. He said one accused Sohail was arrested in the case and the remaining six persons had got pre-arrest bail. Praying the court to quash the charges, he argued that the petitioners had been wrongly charged in the case.

 On the other hand, the lawyer for the complainant and the state lawyer opposed the cancelation of the FIR against the accused. They argued that Gohar Ayub had got fake nikahnama to restrain the girl’s marriage with another person and thus they were rightly charged under the Ghag law.

 Under the Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act 2013, whoever used ‘Ghag’ to ask for a girl’s hand in marriage will be punishable with imprisonment for a term no less than three years, which may also be extended to seven years. It also states that a fine of Rs0.5 million has to be paid by the offender.