KARACHI: A court on Friday directed the investigating officer to produce teenage Dua Zehra from the Darul Aman in Lahore, where she took shelter.

On July 19, a judicial magistrate in Lahore had sent the teenage girl to a shelter home on her request after a fresh investigation had revealed that Zaheer Ahmed had allegedly kidnapped her from Karachi and later illegally solemnised child marriage with her in Punjab.

On Friday, the girl’s mother, Saima Kazmi, moved an application before Judicial Magistrate (East) Aftab Ahmed Bughio pleading to order the police to recover her minor daughter from the Lahore’s shelter home and put under the protection of any child protection institute.

While allowing the application, the judge directed the IO to produce the girl duly accompanied by a child protection officer on Aug 1 “without fail”.

SHC issues notices on Zaheer’s plea for protection

The IO was also told to submit a final charge sheet on the next date so that the matter pertaining to her alleged abduction and underage marriage could be proceeded accordingly.

“It is very much clear that in the case when confidential information is brought by any person acting in benefit of the minor that an offence with regard to the Child Marriage Restraint Act is committed, the court has to ensure her or his production for protecting her/him from being victimised,” the order said.

The magistrate mentioned that the Sindh High Court had in this regard clearly issued directions to the IO for shifting the victim/witness from Lahore to Karachi and the production of the minor before the court for further orders for custody and protection of minor/victim and disposal of the case.

Earlier, the applicant’s counsel argued that under Rule 9 of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Rules, 2016 the incumbent court having jurisdiction of the police station where the minor’s kidnapping was reported on the application of a person, who is acting in the interest of the child, may pass an order for production of the minor in case where it appears to the court that the offence under the Child Marriage Protection Act, 2013 is committed or is likely to be committed.

He pleaded the court to issue the writ for production of the victim/minor Dua Zehra under this Rule.

The counsel claimed that strange people were seeking permission to meet Dua in Darul Aman at Lahore, which, he apprehended, may prejudice and create the possibility of her being pressurised.

Notices issued on Zaheer’s plea for protection

The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to the federal interior and finance secretaries, provincial home secretary, police and other respondents on petitions of Zaheer Ahmed and his brother seeking protection and unfreezing of their bank accounts.

Zaheer Ahmed, the alleged husband of Dua Zehra, through his lawyer petitioned the SHC stating that he had contracted free-will marriage with Dua on April 17 but he had recently been nominated as an accused in a supplementary statement by Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi, father of Dua and complainant of the case, since she tied the knot without consent of her parents.

He stated that Mr Kazmi and his relatives had developed severe grudge and enmity and trying to break the scared marriage. Dua had given several statements before the courts as well as police about her free-will marriage and also refused to go to Karachi due to threat to her life, he added.

He alleged that during re-investigation of the case, police booked the petitioner due to “political and sectarian influence as the petitioner and complainant belong to two different sects”.

The counsel further stated that police were trying to affect arrest of the petitioner and adamant to “kill him in a fake encounter at the behest of local political interference” while the petitioner was ready to face the trial before relevant court.

The petitioner sought directives for respondents not to arrest him unlawfully as he was on interim pre-arrest bail and to provide safety and protection to him from the complainant of the case.

After preliminary hearing, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro issued notices to the respondents as well as federal and provincial law officers for July 29.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2022

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