KARACHI: A sessions court has dismissed an appeal filed by the purported husband of a teenage Christian girl, Arzoo, seeking her custody.

Syed Ali Azhar along with his brothers Syed Mohsin Ali and Syed Shariq Ali and their friend Danish has been charged with kidnapping the teenage girl.

A cleric, Qazi Abdul Rasool, Junaid Ali Siddiqui and Mehmood Hassan have also been charged with facilitating forced conversion of Arzoo and solemnising her underage marriage with Syed Ali Azhar.

Ali Azhar, who was recently released on bail, had instituted a suit submitting that he married Arzoo on Oct 12, 2020 against Rs50,000 mehr.

The additional district and sessions judge (South) Uzma Khan pronounced her verdict reserved on an appeal filed

by Ali Azhar after hearing arguments from both sides.

In the appeal, Ali Azhar had submitted that Arzoo, who belonged to Christian faith, had embraced Islam by exercising her right of majority and contracted nikah with him.

He submitted that the family of the girl lodged a criminal case regarding her kidnapping against him, therefore, he was arrested while the Sindh High Court sent the girl to a shelter home while hearing a petition filed by her parents.

His counsel Nizar Tanoli submitted that after his release on bail his client tried to contact Arzoo when he came to know that she would not be allowed to meet him under the orders of the high court.

He argued that the plaintiff was facing difficulties in taking care of his family being a single male member.

The counsel informed that Ali Azhar had filed a suit seeking custody of his wife, but a family court had dismissed the same observing that the SHC’s Nov 9 order was self-explanatory, as the court had already held the plaintiff liable for having violated deterring provisions of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act.

The family judge had further noted that the SHC had expressly disallowed the alleged husband (plaintiff) from meeting Arzoo while she was directed to be confined in the shelter home, the counsel added.

He asked the judge to set aside the family court’s order and order the shelter home authorities to hand over the custody of Arzoo to him.

On the other hand, the counsel for the parents of the girl vehemently opposed the appeal, arguing that the family judge had rightly dismissed the suit instituted by the appellant in the light of the facts of the case as well as clear observations of the SHC.

After hearing arguments from the counsel for the parties, the judge disposed of the appeal observing it made out no case.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2021

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