Protestors hold posters in favor of Faryal bibi (Rinkle Kumari) while policemen stand guard to avoid any untoward incident on the occasion of her case-hearing at Sindh high court (SHC) in Karachi. – Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed two Muslim convert girls to stay at a shelter house in Karachi for a period of three weeks enabling them to take a decision for their future independently and in a free atmosphere.

A three-Judge comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez also ordered the police officers to escort both girls back to Karachi in safe custody.

The bench in its order observed that though undoubtedly both girls, Faryal Bibi (Rinkle Kumari) and Hafsa bibi (Dr Lata), had performed Nikah and joined their husbands but there were allegations of forced conversion.

It said that apparently there was a lot of pressure upon both girls by the parents and the courts, so after recording their statements in camera, they were of the opinion that they required time, free from pressures and take a decision for their future.

The bench allowed both girls to stay for three-weeks in shelter house named 'Panah' owned by Majeeda Rizvi, a senior lawyer.

The bench was hearing a constitutional petition moved by Pakistan Hindu Council.

During course of proceedings, the bench allowed applications of all parties for hearing.

The chief justice told Malik Qamar Afzal and Mujeeb Pirzada counsels for Syed Naveed Shah, husband of Faryal Bibi and Dr Khalid Ranjha, counsel for Nadir Baig, husband of Hafsa bibi, that these girls might require some time to think over their future in a free atmosphere.

He opined that under the charged atmosphere and pressure from parents, court and husbands, they would not be able to do so.

Justice Tariq Parvez observed that the issue should not be treated in the backdrop of religious affiliations but it was a common practice even in the non-Muslim families that girls and boys married without consent of their parents.

Dr Khalid Ranjha requested the bench to send them to shelter house which was already ordered by the Sindh High Court.

The chief justice on objection of counsel for parents of Faryal bibi observed that they were against all kinds of illegal confinement.

They would not compel anyone but for the sake of parents, they would write in their order, about granting of time to the girls to think over their future life.

Raising a query, the chief justice said that now the difficulty was that they had embraced Islam and solemnized their Nikah.

Faryal bibi was summoned by the bench to rostrum and questioned her about her education, to which she replied that she was Intermediate in science but later could not clearly respond to other questions.

Realising her difficulty, the chief justice requested all, counsels and media representatives to leave the courtroom to record her statement in camera.

After a brief period, all were allowed to re-enter the courtroom and the chief justice handed over a written statement of Faryal bibi to Mujeeb Pirzada to read.

The atmosphere in the courtroom grew a bit tense when Dr Ramesh, father of Hafsa bibi, stood up and in high pitched voice claimed that her daughter wanted to go with them but was forcefully held.

When he continued raising his voice continuously, the chief justice asked the security personnel to take him out of the courtroom.

Dr Ramesh Kumar of Pakistan Hindu Council requested the bench to correct the name of third girl who was identified as Asha instead Poja Devi.

Further hearing was adjourned till April 18.

Dr Ramesh Kumar, patron-in-chief, Pakistan Hindu Council, had moved a petition about recovery of three females belonging to Hindu community including Rinkle d/o Nandlal (Mirpur Mathello); Dr Lata d/o Dr Ramesh (Jacobabad), and Asha (Larkana).

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