By Rizwan Shehzad
ISLAMABAD: Most of the world may have done away with apartheid and slavery, but these vices still rear their ugly head in our country.
A lower court judge is now facing an inquiry over his alleged involvement in employing a child as a housemaid and keeping her in wrongful confinement, burning her hand over a missing broom, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in storeroom, and threatening her with dire consequences.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife were booked after 10-year-old T* recorded her statement before the police in the presence of the Potohar Assistant Commissioner Nishaa Ishtiak.
As reports of the alleged abuse went viral on social media and subsequently flashed in the media, the top judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) took notice and directed the IHC registrar to initiate an inquiry in the case. Subsequently, the registrar summoned the judge, the concerned SHO, the investigation officer, and others to appear before him on Friday.
Subsequently, sources at the high court said that the judge and others recorded statements before the registrar. Judge Khan, though, is expected to appear before the IHC registrar again today (December 31).
On Thursday, police had taken custody of the girl after recovering her from the house of the judge. Initially, the girl told the police that she fell from stairs and received an injury to her right eye, while she had burnt her left hand after spilling tea on it.
Later, while recording her statement before the assistant commissioner, she stated that she had been employed at the judge’s house for nearly two years.
She also claimed that she was often beaten by her employers. Most recently, she said ‘Mano Baji’ – the judge’s wife – had allegedly shoved her hands onto a burning stove and then beat her up after a broom went missing.
She added that owners of the house would usually lock her up in a storeroom at night and would often starve and beat her.
After taking her into custody, the girl had been taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for a medical examination. In the examination’s report, a PIMS medic-legal officer described the nature of the wounds as “there is swelling and blackening of the right upper and lower eyelid…swelling and burn marks superficial in nature on the torso…abrasion on the right side of face and over left ear.”
The report noted that the girl had suffered blunt force and burn injuries and opined that the nature of wounds constituted physical assault under sections 337 –A (i) and 337 – F (i) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Legal fraternity unsettled
Legal experts, meanwhile, have expressed displeasure over the recovery of the girl from judge’s house, saying that the mere employment of a child as a housemaid violated of child labour laws. Besides, they said, the inquiry seems to be a tactic to “save” the incumbent judge and avoid facing the legal process.
Islamabad High Court Bar Association General Secretary Mohammad Waqas Malik said that instead of an inquiry, a free and fair trial should be conducted over the allegations. He said that justice should be served as this is an issue of humanity involving the general public.
Another legal expert, Barrister Masroor Shah said that Section 337 of the PPC is applicable in every case involving torture, but in this case, a judge is facing such charges. “If he can’t even do justice to a 10-year-old, how can he provide justice to litigants,” he asked.
*Name withheld to protect identity