ISLAMABAD, Oct 18: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court has fixed a tricky case for hearing on Monday in which religion and human passions appear inextricably mixed.
In the initial hearing on Thursday, the judge separated a Christian couple from the case of alleged kidnapping filed, by one Mr Gilbert after his wife Farzana ran away with a Christian boy, Adnan, and got married in May after converting to Islam.
Shehzadi and her husband Kala Masih, respectively sister to Farzana and brother to Adnan, were arrested by Shehzad Town police after Mr Gilbert registered his FIR on July 26.
Justice Siddiqui observed that Shehzadi and Kala Masih could not be declared accused persons as they are holding to their Christian faith.Malik Jawwad Khalid, counsel for Shehzadi and Kala Masih, put to the court that the prosecution failed to establish that they were involved in kidnapping of Farzana.
Mujtaba Haider Sherazi, counsel for Gilbert, argued how could a woman take a second husband in the presence of her first husband. The court inquired can a woman, after embracing Islam, live with her non-Muslim husband?
Mr Gilbert's counsel said in such a case, it was mandatory for the woman to convince her husband about change of faith. If the husband agrees then both can live together as husband and wife.
However, if he does not agree then their marriage would stand annulled automatically.
Farzana did not invite her husband to change faith because she was interested in Adnan. Both accepted Islam to save their skins from the police, counsel Sherazi said.
Had Farzana been inclined toward the Muslim faith, he added, she could have done so while being wife of his client. But she fled with another person and changed her faith.
Counsel Sherazi alleged that Farzana's sister Shehzadi and her husband Kala Masih were “involved in the kidnapping of Farzana”.
He requested the court to order the police to keep the accused couple in custody until Farzana Changing faith to follow the heart and Adnan are arrested.
However, the counsel for the detained couple, Malik Jawwad Khalid, pleaded for quashing the charge against his clients.
He also filed a petition on behalf of runaway Farzana and Adnan, requesting the court to declare their marriage as legitimate.
The court would take up this matter again on Monday.
Rights activist Farzana Bari said Farzana should have followed certain procedure before leaving her husband. “This is a matter of the rights of a husband as well,” she said when asked for her comments.
“There was nothing wrong if the Christian woman and her friend embraced Islam and got married. But using the change of religion as an instrument for auto cancellation of earlier marriage cannot be justified,” said Ms Bari.
Advocate Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a member of the Punjab Assembly from the minorities, told Dawn that in such cases women change religion to follow their heart but revert to their original faith after marrying their love.