Sunday December 04, 2022

Court dismisses bail pleas of Nikah Khuwan, witness in Dua Zahra case

July 08, 2022

A sessions court on Thursday dismissed applications of two suspects seeking post-arrest bail in a case pertaining to the alleged abduction and underage marriage of Dua Zahra.

Hafiz Ghulam Mustafa, a local cleric who had solemnised the teenage girl’s freewill marriage with a Lahore-based man, and Asghar Ali, who was one of the two witnesses to the marriage, moved the bail applications.Both have been behind bars since their arrests in May.

Zahra’s purported husband Zaheer Ahmed had been booked for kidnapping her from her Malir Halt residence on April 16. Later, the cleric and witness were booked over their role in the alleged underage marriage. The Al-Falah police had lodged an FIR on the complaint of the girl’s father, Syed Mehdi Kazmi.

The applicants through their lawyer stated that they were innocent and had falsely been implicated in the case. They didn’t commit the alleged crime as Zahra left the house of the complainant and went to Lahore and married Ahmed of her own free will.

The court was pleaded to order the release of the detained suspects on bail. On the contrary, the state prosecutor opposed the bail pleas. Social activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir, who represented Zahra’s parents, contended that the accused were not entitled to any concession of bail as there was sufficient evidence available on record to connect them with the commission of the crime.

Additional District and Sessions Judge-VII (East) Ilyas said that as per police papers available on record, Zahra and Ahmed contracted the marriage but it appeared that the girl was not a major and the recently formed medical board put her age between 15 and 16 years.

He said another aspect of the case is that the judicial magistrate-XXVI (East) ordered the investigating officer to submit a supplementary charge sheet under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after collecting relevant material; therefore, this is a premature stage to grant the accused bail.

As for the Nikah, the judge observed that all Nikah registrars or other persons who solemnise marriages are under legal obligation to scrutinise credentials of couples at the time of their marriage. Mere oral assertions about age should not be accepted unless any proof thereof is presented in the shape of CNIC, B-form, birth certificate, school certificates or medical certificate based in ossification test.

In the present case, the court noted that the Nikah Khuwan didn’t verify the essential documents and verbatim of the parties. Besides, it added the offence of abduction as defined under Section 364-A of the Pakistan Penal Code is not bailable offence. Observing that the accused were not entitled to any concession of bail at this stage, the court dismissed their bail pleas.