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Assistance sought in Sikh girl rape case

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Saturday appointed senior lawyer Dr Khalid Ranjha as amicus curiae (friend of court) to seek his assistance in an appeal of a Christian man convicted of raping a Sikh girl in Nankana Sahib district.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, who heard the appeal on Friday, sought the assistance of the senior lawyer on a query as to whether any additional rights were protected under the personal law of the victim (Sikh) as well as the appellant (Christian).

The written order of the hearing stated that the appellant’s counsel also sought time to assist the court on the query.

The judge observed that it was necessary to examine the legal rights of the victim and the appellant in their respective religions. The judge would resume the hearing on Dec 16.

The Nankana Sahib City police station had registered the first information report (FIR) of the alleged occurrence on Feb 17, 2015 on the complaint of the victim’s father.

The trial court had on Oct 3, 2019 sentenced Shahbaz Masih to 25 years in jail with a fine of Rs100,000.

In his appeal filed through Barrister Khadija Siddiqui, the convict stated that the trial court handed down the conviction purely on the statement of the complainant. There were glaring contradictions in the statements of the witnesses and the medical report of the alleged victim, he pleaded. He submitted that police registered the FIR with a delay of 15 hours and the alleged victim recorded her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC before a judicial magistrate five days after her recovery from the alleged abduction.

The appellant said a co-accused charged with the same allegations had been acquitted by the trial court. He stated that nothing had been recovered from his custody, including a weapon used in the alleged incident. He contended that during his cross examination, the investigating officer admitted that he had failed to collect several important pieces of evidence, including mobile phones of both the appellant and the victim, to prove his presence at the crime scene.

He asked the court to set aside the decision of the trial court and acquit him of the charges.

Source: Dawn