The Sindh police on Thursday recommended a local court that the case lodged by the parents of Dua Zehra — who went missing from Karachi and was recovered in Punjab — be quashed, observing that charges of her kidnapping and underage marriage were not proven.
On June 7, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had allowed Zehra to decide whom she was intending to reside or go along with after she denied on oath being kidnapped by her purported husband Zaheer Ahmed.
Police had booked Ahmed, cleric Hafiz Ghulam Mustafa, who had allegedly solemnised their underage marriage, and Ali Asghar, a witness to the marriage. A case was lodged under Sections 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of fourteen), 216 (harboring offenders) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with the Section 3(i) of the Prevention of Trafficking in Person, 2018 read with sections of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2013 at the Al Falah police station on the complaint of the girl’s father, Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi.
On Thursday, Judicial Magistrate (East) Aftab Ahmed Bughio fixed the matter on June 20 for hearing arguments from the parties on the challan filed under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Earlier, DSP Shaukat Ali Shahani, the investigating officer, filed a final challan stating that during the course of the investigation it was found that Zehra went from Karachi to Punjab of her own free will and was not abducted.
He said that the medico-legal officer’s test certificate suggested Zehra’s age to be between 16 and 17 years, therefore, a kidnapping offence was not committed as under PPC Section 364-A an abductee’s age must be less than 14 years.
The IO further said that since the marriage had taken place in Lahore, and because every province had different marriage traditions and laws, therefore, the relevant sections of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2013 were also not applicable to the present case.
DSP Shahani said that since the girl had denied being kidnapped before the magistrate and the SHC, therefore, PPC Section 216 was also not applicable against the groom’s relatives, who on that basis had already been discharged from the case by the court under Section 63 of the CrPC.
The DSP maintained that the remaining detained suspects, Mustafa and Asghar, were also found to be innocent, thus their further detention would be an injustice to them.
He recommended to the court to also discharge them from the case under Section 169 of the CrPC over lack of evidence.
Concluding the report, the IO recommended for the magistrate to accept the challan in C-class (cancel) and order the cancellation of the first information report.