A division bench at Sindh High Court Hyderabad circuit on Tuesday ordered a judicial probe into the case of Naila Rind, a Sindh University student who was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her hostel room in January.
The bench, comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui, ordered a sessions judge, Amjad Ali Bohio, to conduct the judicial probe, providing him with a complete mandate to examine the circumstances and reasons surrounding Rind's alleged suicide.
While hearing a petition filed by civil society activists, the bench further ordered Judge Bohio to submit an inquiry report within two months, empowering him to file a coercive order against authorities and people who do not cooperate during the probe.
The judge was also empowered to call on Rind's parents and visit her village if necessary.
Furthermore, the bench ordered Anis Khaskhelihi, the accused in Rind's case, to appear before a trial court on a bi-weekly basis.
Anis, son of a medical university registrar, was arrested on Jan 6 after police found his cell phone number among those who had called Rind on her last day. In July, an anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad granted bail to Khaskhelihi against a surety of Rs100,000.
The SHC stayed the ATC's orders and directed the SU vice chancellor to cooperate with sessions judge in his inquiry.
Fouzia Ashraf, the deputy director of the women's development department at the university, told the bench that she had found 'irregularities and illegalities' at the girls' hostel during a visit there.
“Many girls [at the hostel] said that sexual harassment by teaching staff and other staff members is prevalent," Ashraf said. She also said that cases of sexual harassment by sons of infuential people are putting girls at risk in the university.
"A majority of female students come from far-flung areas and face great diffculties in getting permission to attend university and receive an education," Ashraf said, explaining that disclosing the names of the girls who had been harrassed would jeopardise their studies.
Ashraf said that the Rind case should be investigated keeping in view that she was the only girl living in the hostel during vacations without security.
The SHC directed Judge Bohio to depute two female judges to visit university hostels for women along with a deputy director and examine the issues highlighted by Ashraf.
The female judges were ordered to make recommendations to ensure a safe and secure atmosphere for female students at universities.
As Ashraf voiced concerns regarding her security due to recent threats she had received, the court ordered the Hyderabad commissioner to provide her a vehicle and directed Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Hyderabad Khadim Hussain to provide a police escort to her round the clock.
Protection for female students
The SHC also directed DIG Hussain to deploy at least two female sub-inspectors and three male sub-inspectors for the protection of girls studying at the university.
The sub-inspectors are to work as escorts for the female students, respond to complaints and patrol the area, the court ordered.
The court also directed chief secretary sindh and secretary of universities to form a committee comprising the vice chancellor (VC) at Sindh University, the director of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, the vice chancellor at IBA Sukkur, a member of the Higher Education Commission and two members nominated by the SU VC.
The committee was tasked to examine issues relating to examine every aspect of SU and submit recommendations.