KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the interior ministry to form a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the issue of trafficking of children.

The SHC also ordered the provincial authorities to investigate the matter through a JIT since the case of an underage girl, who was sold thrice after being abducted, clearly showed that such gangs were operating with complete impunity.

A single-judge bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar summoned the SSP-City, who is heading the JIT formed earlier on a court order, as well as officials concerned of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to on January 9, 2023 along with progress reports and investigations in the case in question.

The bench issued such directives while hearing the bail application of a suspect booked for allegedly kidnapping an underage girl to force her for marriage.

Gangs of kidnappers operating with impunity, SHC remarks

Adnan Shabbir submitted that he had not contracted marriage with the 14-year-old girl, who was also present in courtroom, along with her mother.

In fact, he said, he had arrived from Oman to tie the knot with one Sonia and the marriage certificate was signed at the city court.

The bench in its order noted that although the victim had not made any direct allegation regarding forced marriage or rape, it was a case of severe nature and as per Section 9 (2) of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020, a JIT required to probe into such issue.

It further said that the deputy attorney general was being put on notice since the victim was kidnapped and sold at three places and eventually, managed to escape from the captivity of the abductors and reached her home.

The victim in her statement in court said that she had seen around 15 teenage girls at the house of one Riffat, who was also nominated in the case as one of the kidnappers, it added.

“Accordingly, Federal Interior Ministry shall constitute JIT comprising of competent officers under the FIA laws; besides, the JIT constituted by Home Department, Province of Sindh and they shall probe into the issue with regard to human trafficking particularly the minors and this is a clear-cut case which shows that such gangs are operating without any interference and have not been curbed by the law enforcement agencies,” the order said.

The bench granted bail to the applicant subject to furnishing solvent surety of Rs100,000.

The bench also restrained the print and electronic media from publishing and flashing the name of victim.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2022

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