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Punishments handed to judge, wife suspended in Tayyaba torture case

Updated April 23, 2018

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In this Jan 6, 2017, file photo, Maheen Zafar, the wife of sessions judge Raja Khurram Ali is escorted from the Supreme Court by her brother in Islamabad. ─ AP/File
In this Jan 6, 2017, file photo, Maheen Zafar, the wife of sessions judge Raja Khurram Ali is escorted from the Supreme Court by her brother in Islamabad. ─ AP/File

A division bench of the Islamabad High Court on Monday suspended the one-year jail sentences handed to a judge and his wife in the Tayyaba torture case, which had captured the country's attention in late December 2016.

The IHC had last week sentenced additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen to one year each in prison and ordered them to pay a fine of Rs50,000 each for keeping the then 10-year-old child maid Tayyaba in wrongful confinement, burning her hand over a missing broom, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in a storeroom, and threatening her of "dire consequences".

The statements of a total of 19 prosecution witnesses were recorded during the course of the proceedings, including that of Tayyaba's parents.

Following the sentencing, the court approved their bail applications against surety bonds of Rs50,000. The convicts were given seven days to appeal against the verdict.

Raja Khurram and Maheen challenged the sentences through their lawyers Raja Rizwan Abbasi and Advocate Sohail Warraich who were present in court today before a two-judge division bench comprising justices Athar Minallah and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.

The bench subsequently suspended the sentences and adjourned the case until the second week of May.

Suo motu notice

The case of Tayyaba, a young domestic worker at the home of ADSJ Khan and his wife Maheen, first came to light after photos of the tortured child began circulating on social media.

Read: Tayyaba was definitely tortured, says Pims head

Tayyaba was rescued from their residence with visible wounds on December 28, 2016 and a first information report was filed against her employers a day later.

Khan reached a compromise with Tayyaba's parents on Jan 2, 2017, and a day later the child was handed over to her parents. On Jan 4, however, the apex court took suo motu notice of the matter, saying: "No 'agreements' can be reached in matters concerning fundamental human rights."

The Supreme Court in a hearing on Jan 11 then observed that the role of a lawyer, Raja Zahoor Hassan, was of key interest with regards to an 'illegitimate compromise' reached between the suspects and the child’s family.

CJP Nisar had insisted there was no doubt that a criminal act had been committed in the case and directed police to investigate the preparation of the compromise deed as well as matters related to internal trafficking of child labourers.

After the police in their report had focused only on the child's abuse and the possible involvement of the suspects, the SC expressed displeasure with the investigation of the case and referred it back to the IHC for further deliberation.