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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the Sindh chief secretary to submit a report regarding legislation for the protection of housewives as well as temporary arrangement for immediate shelter or safety for such women.

The SHC said if there was no such legislation, the quarters cornered were expected to initiate a process for proper legislation and also appoint two lawyers as amici curiae (friends of court) to assist it.

The single bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also directed its office to provide a copy of the order to the Sindh advocate general with regard to legislation on this issue, and issued a notice to the attorney general, fixing the matter for Oct 31.

The bench issued these directives on a constitutional petition of a woman seeking custody of her four children after the petitioner’s husband divorced her.

The petitioner argued that at the time of marriage she was studying in intermediate and was not in a position to continue her education and now she was suddenly expelled from her home after over 10 years of wedlock and had no immediate shelter.

The bench observed: “I would add that since the ‘state’ has been given the ultimate status of ‘guardian’ therefore, if there is any such infringements then it is the state which should be available thereby assuring temporary arrangement coupled with a complete mechanism”.

The bench said that without prejudice to the competence of the guardian court to determine welfare of minors, the custody of three minor children was handed over to the petitioner. The respondent was directed to produce the fourth child, who is in the custody of a cousin, at the next hearing.

It further observed that judicial proprieties demanded that the petitioner continued to stay at the same house. However, the respondents should make alternative arrangements for accommodation and maintenance of minors till further decision on welfare of the minors as well as to meet the expenses of minors under the supervision of their mother.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2018