Sunday October 02, 2022

Two suspects granted bail in Karachi teen’s kidnap case

September 15, 2022

A court granted on Wednesday post-arrest bail to two suspects charged with kidnapping a minor girl from Karachi and trafficking her to Punjab where her illegal child marriage was solemnised.

Special Gender-Based Violence Court (East) Judge Ilyas A Memon directed Zaheer Ahmed, purported husband of the 15-year-old girl, and his brother Shabbir Ahmed to furnish a surety of Rs200,000 each to secure their release. However, the judge made it clear that the release of the suspects on bail was not meant to give them a favour but make them face the trial. Every charge or allegation being levelled was subject to trial and its sole object was to meet legal fate and not to keep the accused behind bars, he said.

“Moreover, the release of the accused on bail does not amount to his acquittal but his judicial custody is transferred to a private person who is bound to produce the accused person before the court,” he maintained, adding the prosecution was at liberty to seek cancellation of bail if they attempted to tamper with the case evidence or obstruct the investigation and did not cooperate in the probe.

The judge said the bail is a surety that a person gives to a court to ensure his presence before it whenever summoned. If the accused didn’t show up, the court might revoke their bail and issue warrants for their arrest, he warned. He pronounced his order after hearing arguments from defence and prosecution sides. On August 30, Zaheer and Shabbir were arrested after the court revoked their interim pre-arrest bail.

Advocate Gul Muhammad Farooqi and Amir Niaz Badhera, who represented both the suspects, argued that their clients were not nominated in the FIR, nor was the complainant of the case an eyewitness to the alleged abduction of his daughter. The minor victim had already declared in her statements that she contracted freewill marriage with Zaheer Ahmed, the counsel said and added that she had also sworn an affidavit wherein she denied being abducted by anyone.

On the other hand, state prosecutor Muhammad Younus, assisted by Advocate Jibran Nasir, the counsel for the father of the victim, contended that the victim was recovered from the custody of Zaheer Ahmed, who along with his brother committed the alleged offences. On the day of the incident, the accused were present in Karachi as per the call data record (CRD) available on the record, he said.

“The age of the victim is under fourteen years as per the birth certificate placed on record. In such cases, the consent of the victim is immaterial and the accused had taken away the victim without the consent of her parents by enticing her,” the prosecutor said, adding though two co-accused – local cleric Ghulam Mustafa, who solemnised the ‘invalid’ Nikkah, and Ali Asghar, a witness – had been granted bail by the Sindh High Court but the roles of the present accused were different, due to which the rule of consistency was not applicable in the present case. He, therefore, pleaded with the court to dismiss their bail pleas.

In the four-page order, the judge further observed that there were two versions of the case, and which of them was correct would be determined during the course of the trial. “It is an established principle of law that when there are two versions of the occurrences, it squarely invites Section 497 (2) of the CrPC, calling for further probe into the occurrence. Accused persons are behind bars and they are not required for investigation as the investigation of the case has been completed,” he went on. The judge said the accused were not hardened criminals and no useful purpose would be served by keeping them behind bars.