The father of Dua Zehra — the teenage girl who went missing from Karachi in April and was recovered from Punjab earlier this month — on Saturday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the Sindh High Court's ruling that said his daughter was free to decide her fate.

On June 8, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had allowed Dua to decide whom she wanted to reside or go along with after she denied on oath being kidnapped by her purported husband. Subsequently, the Sindh police on Thursday had recommended to a local court that the case lodged by Dua's parents be quashed, observing that charges of her kidnapping and underage marriage were not proven.

Her father, Mehdi Kazmi, submitted a petition challenging the SHC verdict in the apex court today through his counsel that named the Sindh government, inspector general of police, senior superintendent of police (East), Al Falah police station's station house officer, Anti-Violent Crime Cell investigation officer and Dua's purported husband Zaheer Ahmed as respondents.

The petition argued that the SHC had erred in law by setting Dua, a minor, at liberty instead of committing her to the lawful custody of a guardian. It said that the court can only set a person of age at liberty while minors were supposed to be committed to a guardian's lawful custody.

"In the present case, the honorable Sindh High Court has transgressed across this fundamental principle viz while confirming that the abductee is indeed a minor under the age of 18. The high court ... set her at liberty instead of committing her to lawful custody of her guardians," the petition said.

It said the court had further erred by relying on Dua's statement and also by preferring reliance upon an "improper" bone ossification test report, opined by a single medical expert rather than a medical board, as opposed to registered documentary evidence pertaining to the age of the abductee.

It argued that when documentary evidence such as birth certificate, Nadra certificates and passport — that showed her age as 14 — was available then it could not be overridden by a medical report in the form of a bone ossification test which is "merely an expert opinion and which carries a margin of error of one to two years."

As for Dua's statement, the petition said the court had erred by relying on it since it was takenimmediately upon her production before the SHC and the court did not consider that the statement could be a result of influence, inducement and enticement given that not only Dua was brought from Punjab to the SHC along with Ahmed, but also that she had remained under his continuous illegal confinement for nearly two months.

"The honourable high court has erred in law by directing the investigation officer to include the age certificate and statement on oath in the investigation of the instant case which has in effect prejudiced the investigation as the honourable high court itself has given credibility to the aforementioned documents by expressly placing reliance on them for setting the abductee at liberty."

Therefore, the petition prayed, the apex court should suspend the SHC's order, order Dua's recovery and restore her to the custody of her father or the state till the case's final disposal. It added that orders for the formation of a medical board should also be given for preparing her proper ossification test report.

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