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Accused in Karachi underage marriage case not allowed to meet girl

A session’s court has dismissed the application of a suspect seeking to meet his purported wife.

Zaheer Ahmed, who had allegedly kidnapped 15-year-old girl from Karachi and solemnized marriage with her in Lahore, had pleaded the court to allow him to meet her. The court had earlier sent the girl to the shelter home following her recovery from Punjab.

Special Gender-Based Violence Court (East) Judge Ilyas issued the order on the plea filed by the applicant, charged with kidnapping, trafficking and child marriage.

Advocate Amir Raza Badhera stated that the applicant is the girl’s husband and argued that in the light of the orders passed by the high court, the girl was at liberty to reside with anyone of her choice.

He recalled that the girl herself had earlier sworn an affidavit to meet her husband, so there was no bar on the meeting of the couple in the eyes of law. There are good terms between accused Zaheer Ahmed and the girl, according to the counsel, who pleaded the court to allow his meeting with her at the shelter home.

On the contrary, the state prosecutors Rana Khaleeq Mazhar and Ms Samreen objected that the applicant had failed to show any purport for meeting of the accused Zaheer Ahmed with the victim.

They argued that the law favoured special care of the girl regarding ‘protection of her identity’. “There are serious apprehensions of the witness tampering,” contended the prosecutors pleading the court to dismiss Zaheer’s plea.

The judge observed that the victim was presently residing in a shelter home and no one was allowed to meet her in order to save her from the public view at large.

The judge ruled that it was the settled law in such cases that there maight not be a direct eye contact of the victim with the accused and special security arrangements were to be made in such cases.

He ruled: “In view of the above discussion and relevant provisions of law laid down in Prevention of Trafficking in Person Act, 2018 and its rules of 2020 and Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act, 2021 and its rules; the application stands dismissed.”

However, he clarified that the tentative assessment made by the incumbent court in this order should not prejudice the case of either parties.