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Freewill couple: ‘Husband’ accuses woman of bigamy

By: Rizwan Shehzad

KARACHI: Only three days ago, Farhad was granted interim bail in a case of kidnapping the woman, whom he had married. Naheed Zara had allegedly eloped with him and the couple had married of their own freewill.

The woman’s family filed a kidnap case against two men, including Farhad. But the story took a new turn on Saturday as another man, Muhammad Ikram, claiming to be the husband of the woman, filed a case against Zara, accusing her of bigamy.

“I want my wife back,” the 22-year-old petitioner told The Express Tribune. Ikram claimed that he had married Zara on February 15, but before the Rukhsati could take place, his wife was kidnapped. All this happened in his absence as he had gone to Punjab to attend his father’s funeral.

According to the Women Protection Act, 2006 and the Islamic laws, a woman can’t marry again unless the first marriage has ended, and also the mandatory iddat (waiting period) completed. “This is a clear case of bigamy,” said Ikram’s lawyer, Zareen Satti. He said that if a person is charged under Section 493-A of the Women Protection Act, the accused can be punished up to 25 years in jail.

Satti said that the court has directed the investigation officer to verify the marriage certificates as well as the witnesses’ statements and produce the woman on June 13.
“Zara and Ikram got married in February in the presence of all the family members,” claimed Maulana Saifullah, the cleric who allegedly solemnised the marriage. He added that bigamy falls in the category of Zina.

Zara’s father, Haji Gul Muhammad, had lodged an FIR with the Sharafi Goth police, stating that his daughter was kidnapped by two men named Farhad and Faisal Hussain. He also accused his daughter of stealing two-and-a-half tolas of gold and Rs120,000.

But in her statement before the court, 21-year-old Zara rejected her father’s accusations of stealing or being abducted. She told the court that she had left her parents’ house and married Farhad on her own will. Zara said that her parents had registered a false case against the men to harass them. She also presented her marriage certificate before the judge that mentioned Hussain as a witness of the wedding.

However, Aslam Abbasi, the case investigation officer, says that he was not informed earlier about the woman being already married. “When they first came to lodge a case, her father had only reported about the missing woman, gold and cash,” he said.

While talking outside the courtroom, Farhad’s lawyer Muhammad Azam Memon told the Express Tribune that the couple had registered their marriage in the city courts on June 1 and on Wednesday the judge had granted them the bail-before-arrest after the testimony of Zara. He claimed that the Nikahnama produced by Ikram was invalid.

Farhad’s family could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Ikram’s relative and Zara’s uncle, Javed Iqbal, said that the woman’s family is being threatened to take the case back. “Ikram and Zara were married legally and we have the proofs.”

The Express Tibune