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CJ takes notice of girl’s flogging

By Sohail Khan & Asim Yasin
ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Friday took suo moto notice of a girl’s flogging in Swat and issued notices to the federal interior secretary and the chief secretary as well as the inspector general police, NWFP, to personally appear before the court on Monday.
He also directed the federal interior secretary to procure and produce the victim (girl) before the court on the date fixed. According to Reuters grainy video footage, which emerged on Friday, apparently shot with a mobile phone camera shows militants making the burqa-clad girl lie on the ground on her stomach. One man holds her feet and another her head while a third man with a black beard and turban flogs her with a leather strap. Men can be seen looking on.
“For God’s sake, stop it … hang on, hang on,” the girl cries as the man beats her across the buttocks. A militant commander off-camera can be heard giving orders as the girl squirms and whimpers under the blows: “Hold her feet tightly, hold her hands tightly.” Human rights activist Samar Minallah said the girl was from a poor family and was flogged after a neighbour told the Taliban she had had an affair.
“They did this brutality just on suspicion. There was no trial. No evidence, no witness was produced,” she said. The chief justice ordered fixation of the matter under the Article 184(3) of the Constitution before an eight-member larger bench of the Supreme Court to be headed by him (CJP) on Monday. The larger bench consists of Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed and Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmed.
In this respect, notices have also been issued to the attorney general (AG), NWFP advocate general and Peshawar High Court Bar Association president to appear on the fixed date to assist the court.
The CJP took a serious notice on a video clipping screened on private television channels. In his suo-moto notice, the CJP said the matter was a serious violation of fundamental rights, guaranteed under the Constitution.
The CJP observed that the exact place/venue of the incident and the circumstances under which the punishment by whipping was administered was not known, it certainly constituted a serious violation of law and fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.
Geo TV, which showed the video of the incident, has also been directed to produce the CD of the incident. Three private TV channels have also been asked that they may jointly compile the video material of the incident and arrange to display the same before the court on Monday.
According to a press statement, issued by the Supreme Court registrar office, Geo News Television Channel released a video film on Friday of a 17-year-old girl being whipped in public. The punishment was administered by some unknown persons.
In the film, one person had held the girl from hands, the other from feet and the third one was beating her with a whip. The victim girl was continuously crying/screaming. The charge was that she went out of her home with a “Namahram”. The exact place of incident was not reported; however, it appears to be some place in Mingora or some village in Swat. Probably, the said news was also released by the foreign media, the statement said. It said that it is a very cruel act, violation of the fundamental rights and gives a very bad name to the country. The treatment is also in violation of Islamic norms/principles.
It further said the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental rights of its citizens. No person can be deprived of life, liberty without due process of law. The dignity of person is inviolable. No person can be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment/punishment. Whipping is prohibited by law. The incident, therefore, constitutes a serious violation of the Constitution/law.
“It may be pointed out that according to Article 247 of the Constitution, the executive authority of the Federation extends to the Tribal Areas, including the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata). The federal/ provincial laws do not automatically apply to the Tribal Areas; however, such laws can be extended to it with the approval of president/governor,” the statement said.
It said the relevant portion of the Article 247 says: “Subject to the Constitution, the executive authority of the Federation shall extend to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and the executive authority of a province shall extend to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas therein.”
Neither the Supreme Court nor a high court shall exercise any jurisdiction under the Constitution in relation to a tribal area, unless Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) by law otherwise provides: “Provided that nothing in this clause shall affect the jurisdiction which the Supreme Court or a high court exercised in relation to a Tribal Area immediately before the commencing day.”
It is pointed out that in the 1970s, the Supreme Court and high court jurisdiction was extended to Pata. So, in view of the above, the CJP may consider taking action in this matter under the Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly denounced the flogging in public of a young woman and called for a report from the government and apprehending those involved in the heinous crime.
Spokesman for the president Farhatullah Babar said the president was shocked over this act of barbarism and had asked for a report from the government and the local administration.The spokesman said the inhuman and barbaric punishment meted out to the woman had made the heads of the people hang in shame. “For its sheer atrocity, the incident will continue to haunt the people and the country even in a distant age and clime,” he said.
He said the perpetrators of the crime had done a great disservice to humanity, religion and morality. “Such barbarism is unpardonable and cannot be tolerated; it will not be,” he said. The prime minister also ordered the authorities to inquire into the incident and submit a report.
He said, “The incident was also contrary to the Islamic principles, as our religion teaches us to treat the women politely and gently.” The prime minister said, “The government believes in the rights of women and will continue to take every measure to protect their rights.”
Source: The News

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