KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Friday directed the complainant’s counsel to argue on the charge sheet submitted by the investigating officer in a case pertaining to marriage of an underage Christian girl, who has reportedly converted to Islam.
Police have booked Syed Ali Azhar, his brothers Syed Mohsin Ali and Syed Shariq Ali along with their friend Danish for allegedly kidnapping 13-year-old Arzoo and forcing her to contract marriage.
The police also booked cleric Qazi Abdul Rasool, Junaid Ali Siddiqui and Mehmood Hassan, for facilitating and solemnizing the underage marriage of Arzoo Raja with Syed Ali Azhar. They are currently on interim pre-arrest bail.
On Friday, the matter came up before judicial magistrate (South) Muhammad Ali Dall for arguments on the charge sheet submitted by the IO on the last date.
Defense counsel Nizar Tanoli argued that the marriage of his client Azhar with Arzoo was lawful under provisions of the Majority Act, 1875 under which any citizen upon reaching the age of 18 years would be considered a major. Any citizen below 18 is a minor, but there is no bar on the marriage of a minor, he added.
Secondly, the counsel contended that under the “Muhammadan Law” any citizen can contract marriage upon attaining puberty.
Similarly, the counsel argued that under the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 anyone can contract marriage upon reaching the age of puberty.
Mr Tanoli maintained that the marriage of Arzoo and Azhar is lawful under the federal laws as well as Sharia.
Regarding the application of provisions of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013, the counsel contended that the act is not applicable in the present case since it is a provincial law, which is superseded by the federal law as well as Sharia laws.
He maintained that Arzoo had recorded her statement before the Sindh High Court (SHC) clearly stating that she had converted to Islam out of her own choice and contracted marriage out of her free will.
Advocate Tanoli further maintained that since marriage of his client with the girl was according to the laws and Sharia, therefore, physical relations between them were legitimate. Therefore, this is not a case of rape at all, he concluded.
After hearing arguments from the defense counsel, the judge fixed the matter on Dec 1 to hear arguments from the complainant’s counsel.