KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the heads of the Federal Investigation Agency and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to remove all material from social media regarding an underage girl, said to be a victim of child marriage.

Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also asked the FIA and PTA to ensure that reports of psychologists about the girl, who is residing at a shelter home on a court order after her alleged marriage, must not be published, flashed and uploaded on print, electronic and digital media.

Last week, the bench while disposing of an application of alleged husband of underage girl Zaheer Ahmed had directed the health secretary to reconstitute a committee/board of female psychologist and psychiatric to examine the girl after one of the psychologists, Dr Fatima Riaz, alleged that she was allegedly being approached and pressured by the girl’s parents for a favour.

However, the girl’s father, through his lawyer, filed an application stating that Dr Riaz had flashed her report as well as the report of Dr Uzma Ali on print, digital and electronic media in violation of the provisions of the Sindh Children Act 1955.

The counsel contended that under the law, victim’s name, parentage and age as well as facts cannot be published and uploaded on any media forum. He also expressed the apprehension that such practise can be repeated.

The bench directed the FIA director general and PTA chairman to remove all material regarding the underage girl from social media within two days.

“Besides, in earlier order direction was issued that reports of both doctors may be placed before the trial court. It is pertinent to mention that since Dr Fatima Riaz herself contended that she was under pressure and therefore her report shall not be considered and referred to the trial court,” the bench in its order said.

Earlier, the bench had ordered the health secretary to depute female psychiatric and psychologist to examine the girl. On Nov 1, both psychiatrics/psychologists were in attendance and Dr Uzma Ali argued that she had yet to finalise the report as further visits were scheduled with the girl.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2022

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