LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday allowed a Sikh girl, who married a Muslim man against the will of her family and at present living in Darul Aman, to go to any place of her choice and directed her husband to enhance the amount of dowry (haq mehr) from Rs50,000 to Rs1 million.

Justice Chaudhry Shehram Sarwar was hearing a petition by Muhammad Hassaan seeking custody of his wife Jagjeet Kaur.

The police brought the girl to the court under strict security arrangements to attend the proceedings. Her brother and other family members were also present in the court.

Advocate Khalil Tahir Sindhu appearing on behalf of the girl’s brother, Manmohan Singh, asked the judge to adjourn the hearing.

Justice Sarwar reminded the counsel that he had sought adjournment on last hearing as well.

The judge asked the counsel not to delay the matter and just establish //that the girl was not major.

Advocate Sindhu, also a MPA and a leader of Christian community, argued that the school-leaving certificate was enough to prove the girl minor.

However, the judge rejected the argument saying only the documents of Nadra were valid to establish the age of a person.

At this, Advocate Sultan Sheikh, counsel for the petitioner, pointed out that as per the record of the Nadra the girl was 19 years old.

He said a medical board previously constituted by the court had already declared the girl major.

Mr Sindhu said as per a settlement reached by Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar between the parties, the girl was supposed to be handed over to her family.

Justice Sarwar observed that the high court had nothing to do with any decision made by the governor in private capacity.

Mr Sindhu said emotions of the Sikh community would hurt if the girl was allowed to go with the Muslim man.

The judge remarked that the Constitution of the country safeguarded the rights of Kaur and she was free to live with a person of her own choice.

The judge disposed of the petition and ruled that the girl was free to leave the Darul Aman and could live with her husband or go any place of her choice.

Responding to a court’s query, the counsel of the husband said the dowry amount mentioned in the nikahnama was Rs50,000.

Justice Sarwar asked the counsel how much the petitioner could increase the dowry amount.

The counsel said any order of the court to the effect would be complied without any hesitation.

At this, the judge directed the petitioner to enhance the dowry amount to Rs1 million and ordered the police to provide the girl full security.

In his petitioner, Hassaan contended that his wife wanted to live with him so she should be allowed to go with him.

Kaur of Nankana Sahib previously made a statement before the court that she married the petitioner with her free will, after converting to Islam, and did not want to go back to her family. Kaur was given Muslim name Ayesha, before she married the petitioner.

The local Sikh community had resorted to protests after she married the Muslim man against the will of her family.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020