KARACHI: Three suspects, including two females, escaped from the court on Thursday after their interim pre-arrest bail was recalled in a case pertaining to alleged abduction and rape of a Christian girl, who is said to have converted to Islam.
The suspects have been booked in a case pertaining to alleged abduction of a 15-year-old girl and her rape within the remit of the Ittehad Town police station. The main suspect has been arrested.
The additional district and sessions’ judge (west), Mumtaz Ali Solangi, had granted interim pre-arrest bail to the suspects against a surety bond of Rs30,000 each on May 14.
On Thursday, the judge pronounced his verdict reserved on the applications seeking confirmation of the suspects’ bail before arrest after hearing arguments from both sides.
The judge dismissed their applications seeking confirmation of the interim pre-arrest bail, which was also recalled.
The three suspects, who stayed outside the courtroom, easily escaped in the presence of the investigating officer, said the judicial staff and complainant’s lawyer.
Earlier, the judge wrote in his order that after hearing arguments from the parties and perusing the record it appeared that the applicants were nominated in the FIR with their specific role of kidnapping, abducting or inducing the complainant to compel her for marriage with the detained suspect.
“The record shows that the complainant is aged about 15/16 years and she is minor one,” the order said.
It further stated: “The complainant recorded her statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before the concerned magistrate in which she fully denied the acceptance of the religious Islam and execution of freewill and performing her Nikkah with the co-accused.”
The order further stated that “she deposed they forcibly obtained her signatures on plain papers and the co-accused committed Zinna with her”.
The defence counsel for the applicants argued that the FIR of the alleged incident was lodged with an inordinate delay of 15 days.
The judge said it was the settled law that the delay was common in our society in the cases of sexual offences, especially when the victim was an unmarried girl.
He noted it is admitted fact that the complainant was an unmarried girl of age 15/16 years and the suspects did not disclose any old enmity behind their implication in the present case.
The judge said the role of the applicants was disclosed by the complainant about her abduction and such offence was heinous offence.
In view of the above discussions, circumstances of the case and the case law, the court ruled that the applicant/accused persons were involved in prima facie case of abduction of the minor girl to compel her for marriage, which was a heinous offence and affecting the entire society.
Therefore, the judge ordered that the applications were not entitled to the confirmation of the interim pre-arrest bail and recalled the same. Earlier, the defence counsel — Advocates Azhar Qadri and Amjad Iqbal Siddiqui — argued that the applicants were innocent and had not committed the alleged offence.
They argued that in fact the alleged abductee on her own freewill entered into the fold of Islam on April 29 and then solemnised marriage with Imran in the court of law.
The counsel argued that the Nikahnama and Sanad of Islam and affidavit of the freewill marriage had been retained by the police from the custody of the detained suspect Imran Baloch.
They said previously a real aunt of the complainant Sundus had also entered into the fold of the Islam and now she was residing with her husband Muhammad Rehan Baloch.
The counsel said that an FIR of the alleged incident was registered with an inordinate delay of 15 days, adding that the complainant mentioned the date of her alleged abduction as April 28 and her escape from the custody of the suspect as May 5 and reached her parents’ house, but lodged the FIR on May 13.
The counsel added that there was no report of the Medico-Legal Officer in respect of the Section 376 (rape of the victim) available on the record. They maintained that the alleged abductee Neha, now Fatima, and Imran were husband and wife.
The counsel alleged that now the complainant was in illegal detention of her parents, who were torturing and compelling her to convert back to Christianity. “Due to enmity of converting from Christianity to Islam and on her refusal, the family members of complainant mala fidely lodged this FIR,” defence counsel added.
It was argued that there were no reasonable grounds to believe that the suspects had committed a non-bailable offence and the matter required further inquiry. Therefore, the court was pleaded to confirm the interim bail of the suspects.
The state prosecutor Iqbal Solangi contended that with the assessment of the complainant’s counsel Shahid Saeed Bhatti the applicants were not entitled for confirmation of interim bail on the grounds that they had committed the heinous offence of kidnapping/abducting for inducing the complainant to compel her for the marriage and the co-accused committed her rape.
The prosecutor further contended that complainant aged about 15 years and she was neither competent to contract marriage with the co-accused nor had she contracted her marriage, but the suspects forcibly obtained her signature on some blank papers by giving threats and maltreatment to Neha and her younger brother.
The prosecutor argued that the complainant had herself recorded her statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before a judicial magistrate in which she fully implicated the suspects in the commission of kidnapping and Zina.
The prosecutor maintained that the delay in lodging of the FIR was common in our society in the cases of sexual offences especially when the victim was an unmarried girl. He added that the suspects compelled a minor girl by kidnapping her, thus there was no reason for their false implication in the case by the complainant.
Therefore, he contended that the applicants did not deserve the concession of confirmation of the bail and pleaded to dismiss the same.
A case was registered under Sections 365-B (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel for marriage etc), 376 (punishment for rape), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Ittehad Town police station on the complaint of the victim Neha.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019