KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the interior ministry, provincial home department, police and others on a petition filed by the father of teenage Dua Zehra seeking her custody.

The petitioner also sought a restraining order for respondents from issuing her a passport and not to allow her to leave the country.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro put all the respondents as well as additional attorney general, advocate general Sindh and prosecutor general Sindh on notice for July 21.

Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi again petitioned the SHC stating that the June 8 order of the SHC setting Dua at liberty to decide her fate cannot be treated as final adjudication of the instant matter since the same was passed on the basis of a fact which had now been rendered to be erroneous whereas new facts emerged.

The counsel maintained that in the light of foregoing ancillary facts and changed circumstances, the petitioner has no alternative remedy than to approach the SHC again for recovery of her daughter, production and restoration to the lawful guardianship.

He further argued that the June 8 order of SHC had relied upon the impugned report of the ossification test showing age of Dua being around 17 years and her statement on oath.

He added now a medical board had set aside the earlier report about her age as it had found the age of girl under 16 years.

The lawyer further stated that documentary evidence in the form of birth certificate, passport, etc, had shown her age under 14 years at the time of incident and the same cannot be overridden by a medical board in the form of an ossification test.

He argued that as per medical board’s report, Dua was under 16 years and it was prima facie deemed that her alleged marriage with Zaheer Ahmed was illegal even under the Punjab Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2016.

“It is imperative that the alleged detainee be recovered from illegal detention of her alleged husband and handed over to her natural guardian,” the counsel maintained.

The petitioner also expressed the apprehension that the investigating officer of the case, DSP Shoukat Shahani, might be operating under prejudice and certain bureaucratic influence as he was appointed on May 30 the same day SHC had reprimanded the conduct of SSP-AVCC for failing to recover the girl and hence, there was resentment on the apart of some senior police officers, who would prefer the investigation report in “C” class for cancellation of the case.

IO granted two weeks

Judicial Magistrate (East) Aftab Bughio on Wednesday granted two-week time to the IO for filing a supplementary charge sheet in a case pertaining to alleged abduction of Dua Zehra.

The IO submitted that he had not received a copy of the medical board’s report regarding the age estimation test of Dua. He undertook that the supplementary charge sheet would be filed in the light of the age determination test report once it was provided to him.

The magistrate directed the office to provide a certified copy of Dua Zehra’s age determination test report.

He also told the IO to submit the supplementary charge sheet by July 20 and adjourned the hearing.

Jibran Nasir, the complainant’s counsel, later tweeted: “We have moved multiple applications to the IG Police Sindh and Additional IG (investigation) for changing the IO Shahani in the case. However, it appears Sindh Police is more than comfortable embarrassment to itself and inviting doubts/questions about its performance.”

On June 25, the court had directed the IO to carry out further investigation into the case and also told the provincial health secretary to decide the complainant’s application seeking a fresh age estimation test of the girl to determine her actual age. Later, the medical board issued its report declaring that Dua’s age was estimated to be between 15 and 16 year, closer to 15.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2022

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