Friday October 07, 2022

Teen’s kidnap, underage marriage case forwarded to special court after IO adds rape charge

August 18, 2022

A magisterial court ruled on Wednesday that it lacks jurisdiction to take cognisance of the final charge sheet filed before it in a case pertaining to the alleged abduction of a teenage girl from Karachi and her illegal underage marriage in Punjab after the investigating officer invoked the charge of rape.

On Tuesday, the IO had filed the final investigation report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before Judicial Magistrate Aftab Ahmed Bughio, charge-sheeting around 10 suspects, including purported husband of the girl, for abducting and shifting her to Lahore where the alleged illegal underage marriage was solemnised.

During the investigation, the IO said he found the suspects guilty of committing the offences punishable under sections 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of fourteen), 363 (kidnapping), 368 (wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with sections 3 and 4 of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2013 and section 3(ii) of the Prevention of Trafficking in Person Act, 2018.

He said the girl’s purported husband, Zaheer Ahmed, also committed the offence as defined under Section 375(v) (rape with or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age) of the PPC. Two suspects -- cleric Hafiz Ghulam Ali, who had allegedly solemnised the child marriage, and Asghar Ali, a witness to the marriage, are in custody. Zaheer and his brother Shabbir are out on bail, while the rest are absconders. Advocate Zaheer Hussain, counsel for the complainant, argued that sections 364-A, 363, 368, and 375(v) of the PPC are scheduled offences under schedule-II of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act, 2021, therefore, the report should be submitted to a special gender-sensitised court designated for hearing such cases.

“Without touching the merits of the report, I have reached the conclusion that this court has no jurisdiction to entertain the report under section 173 of the CrPC,” the magistrate noted, adding that on completion of the investigation, the IO was required to submit the report before the special court for incorporating these sections in the case. He ordered the court staff to forward the case record to the district and sessions judge for onward submission to the special court.