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LAHORE: A Lahore High Court judge has expressed serious concern over growing trend of filing frivolous petitions in “runaway marriages” and using court as a stage of “Rukhsati” by the couples.

“It has become a trend in our society, rather it has shaped into a well thought out practice that girls come out of their houses for couple of hours on any pretext whatsoever, enter into marriage without the consent of their parents, file a complaint alleging harassment to them and their husbands, return to their parental home and thereafter, the entire above exercise is followed by filing of petitions, like the instant one,” observes Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan in a verdict that dismissed a petition moved by a man for recovery of his wife from the custody of her parents.

The judge further observes, “All above is managed with a view to use this court as a stage of Rukhsati. This is prime time for courts to notice and as far as practicable to plug such indecent activity nothing less than menace, which is not only destroying character of our youth, it is also stigmatising and diminishing our moral values.”

Haider Abbas Binder filed the petition saying he married Naila Shahzadi on Jan 8 last but as the marriage was contracted without the consent of parents of the girl, the family on March 26 came to his house and forcibly took the woman with them.

Justice Khan remarks that no evidence has been cited by the petitioner to lend support to his assertion about immediate and forcible abduction of Ms Shahzadi, otherwise, it is not expected that a major girl is forcibly abducted but none from the locality gets even a glimpse of the incident or does not even hear hullabaloo.

He says it’s alleged in the petition that the petitioner was telephonically informed by Ms Shahzadi about her forcible detention but no cellular or landline number has been given to establish the factum.

Relying on different judgments, the judge rules that custody of a son or daughter with their parents (father, mother, brothers) cannot be termed illegal or improper unless found to be patently unjust, cruel and obviously not in their best interest.

He observes in the facts and circumstances of case in hand, the court is not persuaded that a case for handing over the custody of Ms Shahzadi to the petitioner is made out, nor shall this court allow its jurisdiction under section 491 CrPC to be invoked to effect a “Rukhsati”, especially keeping in mind that the petitioner has appropriate and specific remedy to file a suit for restitution of conjugal rights before the family court and it is requirement of law that before proceeding further the said court shall summon both the parties for reconciliation proceedings and at that stage if the alleged abducted girl admits her nikah/marriage with the petitioner, she may join the petitioner.

“This court is convinced that apart from the fact that the custody of Naila Shahzadi with her parents is not illegal, even the ingredients of section 491 CrPC also do not exist in this case,” the judge concludes the verdict and adds that the petitioner is at liberty to seek alternate remedies at appropriate forum.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018