Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday took suo motu notice of the sexual assault of a teenage girl, which reportedly took place on the orders of a panchayat in the Muzaffarabad area of Multan tehsil.
The chief justice took notice after media reports highlighted the incident on Wednesday, ordering the inspector general of Punjab police to submit a report.
Police have so far arrested 25 members of the panchayat, including four women, for ordering the rape a 16-year-old girl, N*.
According to the police, the panchayat gave the orders as a punishment after N's brother, currently in police custody, was accused of raping F*, a 12-year-old girl.
The Muzaffarabad police had registered an FIR under Sections 310A and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (giving a woman in marriage to settle a criminal liability and abetting a crime) against 27 nominated suspects who had allegedly ordered the rape.
Two men, including F's brother (the primary accused) who allegedly raped N for revenge, are yet to be arrested, police said. The two men who organised the panchayat have also been arrested.
Initial investigation has revealed that the panchayat comprised family members of both alleged rapists, said DSP Shahida Nasreen of the Violence Against Women Centre (VAWC), where the first FIR was registered.
DSP Nasreen told Dawn that N’s mother, Kaneez Mai, had offered either of her two married daughters in exchange for the offence committed by her son, on the condition that F's family would not take any legal action against her son. However, the panchayat demanded that she offer her unmarried daughter, N, to be raped by F's brother.
According to DSP Nasreen, both the alleged rapists and victims are part of the same extended family.
CM angry at 'criminal delay' in case
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed his displeasure at what he said was a "criminal delay" on the part of police in taking action following the rape incidents.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the two rape victims on Thursday, the chief minister said he has formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident and produce a report within 72 hours.
He said the FIR of the second rape which took place on July 18 was registered on July 20, while the FIR of first incident of July 16 was registered on July 24.
"Unfortunately... there could not be a worst example of extreme negligence by the police," Shahbaz said.
He said on July 24, there was an attempt to arrange a "compromise" between the two families however, it could not be executed as police registered a third FIR on July 25, in which the state became complainant.
The chief minister has ordered suspension of all police officials at the local police station, he announced.
He ordered CPO Multan Ahsan Younas to be made an officer on special duty (OSD) and the SHO, ASI, DSP, ASP and other police officers to be suspended.
To read more about the two sides' version in the case, click here.