KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday ordered the ossification test of Dua Zehra to determine her age after she refused to go with her parents and maintained that she was not an underage girl.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Muhammad Junaid Ghaffar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito also sent the girl, who had gone missing from her Karachi home in April and later surfaced in Punjab, to a shelter home till June 8.
It further directed the investigating officer of the case to complete the exercise of ossification test/medical examination within two days.
The parents of Dua were present on the premises of SHC when police brought her to court. They attempted to meet her or talk to her before and during the hearing, but policewomen escorting her asked them to stay away.
SHC orders test to determine her actual age
The petitioner’s lawyer requested the court to allow the parents to meet their daughter. The bench said it had asked the girl, but she refused to meet her parents and the court could not force her to do so.
The matter was fixed for June 10 but it was taken up for hearing on Monday on the request of the Advocate General (AG) following the recovery of the girl.
In the light of SHC’s earlier directives, police produced the girl before the bench submitting that she was recovered from Chishtian in Bahawalnagar.
The bench recorded her statement on oath and she stated that her age was around 17-18 years and his father had lodged a false case about her abduction since she was not abducted by any person. “Now I intend to go with my husband Zaheer Ahmed,” she said.
AG Salman Talibuddin submitted that the marriage was solemnised outside Sindh and no FIR had been registered under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013, whereas an FIR lodged on the complaint of Dua’s father under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for the offence of abduction and under the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018 in Karachi.
He submitted that no case was apparently made out in view of the facts and circumstances of the case and the statement of the girl.
The provincial law officer further submitted that the girl had been produced with the cooperation of Punjab police. He submitted that a writ petition had been filed before the Lahore High Court and in compliance with its order Dua Zehra was to be produced before LHC on June 10.
Advocate Altaf Khoso, who represents petitioner father Mehdi Kazmi, submitted that the girl was born on April 27, 2008 and she was an underage person.
He said an offence under Section 364-A of the PPC was made out. He produced the birth registration certificate and a copy of her passport.
“From perusal of the record and the statement of the alleged abductee recorded on oath today before us, prima facie it appears that insofar as her alleged abduction by Respondent No.6 (Zaheer Ahmed) is concerned, to that effect no case is made out,” the bench in its order ruled.
However, it further said that as an abundant precaution, before any final order could be passed about the custody of Dua Zehra, “Ossification Test/Medical Examination of the girl be conducted to determine her age”.
Mehdi Ali Kazmi had approached the SHC submitting that his daughter went missing from their house in Malir on April 16. He further said that he came to know through social media that her daughter had allegedly contracted marriage with Zaheer Ahmed, a resident of Lahore.
He submitted that she was 13 years old and under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 it was illegal to marry with a minor/underage.
He pleaded to declare the alleged marriage illegal and sought directives for respondents to locate her whereabouts, recover her and hand the custody to her parents.
Published in Dawn,June 7th, 2022