The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered that proceedings be halted in the Tayyaba torture case and asked the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to review the case in the next 15 days and add charges of slavery and human trafficking.
A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, ordered the IHC to review the case to ensure the provision of basic human rights and include slavery and human trafficking charges.
The IHC has been ordered to pick a trial court to refer the case to as the Islamabad court is not a trial court itself.
Asma Jahangir, the lawyer for the maid, told the court that she is being told to back off from her duties as the state is not ready to execute its responsibilities in the case.
Upon hearing this, the CJP ordered the IHC to review the case and recommend a suitable court for the case to be tried.
Jahangir further said that the statement Tayyaba's father presented in IHC is different than the one he had earlier submitted in the SC.
She said that this goes to show that no one in society, including the child's parents, is ready to speak up against injustice.
The CJP said that it is the court's responsibility to ensure that justice is served and that the SC would take the case to the finish line.
"The challan of the case does not include charges of slavery and human trafficking," Jahangir informed the court.
Upon this, the CJP inquired if there was a forum where these charges could be added and was told that a trial court can add these charges based on the request of the state or the plaintiff.
Justice Nisar then asked if the high court could add these charges on its own, but the lawyer told the court that the IHC does hold the power to do so.
During the hearing, the CJP remarked that had the child's father not come forward, the SC would have taken over the parental responsibility and decided for the child's future.
He then ordered that the child be kept at an SOS village till the time the IHC reviews its case and decides on a future course of action.
Tayyaba, who was allegedly tortured by former additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife, was rescued from his house in Islamabad with visible wounds on Dec 28, 2016. A First Information Report was registered against him and his wife, Maheen Zafar, on Dec 29, 2016.
On Jan 2, 2017, the ADSJ reached a compromise with Tayyaba’s parents, on the basis of which Zafar secured pre-arrest bail from the court of ADSJ Raja Asif Mehmood the same day. On Jan 3, ADSJ Atta Rabbani had handed over custody of Tayyaba to her parents.
On Jan 4, however, the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the matter.
The apex court had directed police to investigate the case from every aspect, and on a subsequent hearing on Jan 11, observed that the role of Chakwal-based lawyer Raja Zahoor Hassan — who began practice in Islamabad a couple of years ago — was of key interest with regard to the "illegitimate" compromise first reached between the suspects and the child’s family.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar had remarked during proceedings that there was no doubt that a criminal act had been committed in the Tayyaba case.
The court had also directed the police to investigate how the compromise deed was prepared, as well as matters related to internal trafficking of child labour.
In its report, however, the police had focused only on the child’s abuse and the possible involvement of the suspects. On Jan 26, the SC had expressed displeasure with the way the police investigated the case.
The case was referred back to the IHC by the Supreme Court for further deliberations.
On Feb 10, in a hearing in the IHC on the matter Tayyaba's father had submitted an affidavit to a local court claiming her employers did not torture her, bringing the case back to where it was at the start of the year.
This was the second time Tayyaba's father made the claim.
Mohammad Azam, the child’s father, had dismissed media reports about Tayyaba’s abuse in the affidavit, saying that after looking into the matter he had concluded that both Khan and his wife were innocent.
On Feb 20, Maheen Zafar had submitted a written request to the interior ministry stating that the leader of a "mafia" is conspiring against her and her husband. "The mafia maligned Raja Khurram Ali Khan with fabricated stories," the request stated, adding that negative propaganda was created via social media reports of Tayyaba's torture.
After this, on Feb 26, the court adjourned the indictment of Khan and his wife till March 25.