Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday ordered the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to decide on the appeals filed by Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen — the husband and wife duo that were each handed one-year prison sentences and fines after being found guilty of torturing Tayyaba — a juvenile housemaid.

Raja Khurram, an additional district and sessions judge, and his wife Maheen were accused of keeping the then 10-year-old 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".

Before the IHC delivered its verdict, the case had loitered in the court for more than a year and had only picked up pace after the chief justice took suo motu notice at the turn of the year.

On April 17, the IHC, in its verdict, had sentenced the couple in addition to levying a fine of Rs50,000 each. The accused had subsequently challenged the verdict on April 23 and also had their bail applications approved against surety bonds of Rs50,000, following which the case was adjourned.

The chief justice, when told by advocate general Islamabad today that the accused have been sentenced and that the appeals on the verdict are currently pending, set a one-week deadline for IHC to settle the appeals.

Justice Nisar also questioned why the recently dissolved parliament did not legislate to curb cases of violence against children.

"The parliament was supposed to legislate but it has completed its term," he said. "The rights of children need to be safeguarded."

The chief justice then remarked that "there is no need for new legislation as laws on the matter already exist."

"If the legislation that is already there can protect the rights of children then the [next] federal government should be ready," he said while adding that the notification of the existing laws should be reissued.

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