KARACHI: A medical board formed on the order of a court to determine the age of teenage Dua Zehra, who went missing from her Karachi home and later surfaced in Punjab, on Monday submitted its report before a judicial magistrate stating that her age was between 15 and 16 years.
The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, was filed before Judicial Magistrate (East) Aftab Bughio, who will decide the fate of a charge sheet seeking cancellation of a case pertaining to alleged abduction of the girl.
The court had on June 25 ruled that the matter related to the alleged kidnapping needed further investigation and directed the provincial health secretary to decide an application filed by her father, Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi, for conducting a ‘fresh’ age determination test within a week.
The 11-member medical board headed by Prof Saba Sohail, the principal of the Dow Medical College, conducted different tests on Dua, prepared a report and filed it in court.
Court will take up report of 11-member medical board tomorrow
The magistrate is set to take up the report on July 6 (tomorrow) when the matter is fixed for hearing.
The report stated that the medical board conducted X-rays of her hands, elbows and wrists, pelvis and the sternal ends of her clavicle. An OPG (orthopantomogram) X-ray of her lower mandibular pre-molar teeth was also conducted, it added.
“Aforesaid X-rays were exposed at the Radiology Department, Services Hospital, Karachi and OPG was exposed at Dow Dental College, Karachi on July 2. Dental cast was also prepared,” the report stated.
The medical board’s members opined that on the basis of physical examination, Dua’s age was between 14-15 years and on the basis of dentition, her age was between 13-15 years.
It further stated that on the basis of epiphyseal closure assessed on radiological examination, Dua’s age was between 16-17 years, calling it an “unusual discrepancy”.
The team concluded that consensus opinion was that Dua’s overall age was between 15-16 years, nearer to 15 based on physical examination and dentition.
Dua claimed that she had contracted free-will marriage with Zaheer Ahmed since she was 18, while her parents claimed that she was 14.
Talking to the media outside the court, Advocate Jibran Nasir claimed that the medical report had declared the teenager’s age to be closer to 15.
“So, the girl’s statements in which she was forced to depose that she was 18 years of age, and the medical report which claimed she was 17 have been proven wrong,” he said.
Earlier, a medical test ordered by the Sindh High Court (SHC) had determined that Dua was 17 years old.
Advocate Nasir said the latest medical report supported the stance of Dua’s parents.
Referring to Section 37(v) of the Pakistan Penal Code, he said: “The law states that contracting a marriage while under the age of 16 is a crime, and any physical contact with a child under 16 is classified as a sexual offence,” he said, adding that the federal law was applicable across the country.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022