KARACHI: A sessions court on Thursday granted bail to a suspect detained for allegedly kidnapping and raping an underage Christian girl, who had reportedly converted to Islam.
Police have detained and booked main suspect Syed Ali Azhar and others under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 3 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013.
On Thursday, the matter came up before additional district and sessions judge (South) Faiza Khalil, who pronounced the judgement on the application filed by the main suspect Syed Ali Azhar seeking grant of bail after arrest.
The judge allowed his application and granted him bail against a surety of Rs500,000.
However, his defence counsel told Dawn that Ali Azhar could not be immediately released due to delays in verification of the surety, adding that he was expected to be released on Friday (today).
Earlier, the defence argued that his client was innocent and falsely implicated in the present case since Arzoo herself had recorded her statement before the Sindh High Court that she was 18 years old.
The defence counsel argued that the girl had testified before the court that she had converted to Islam and married the applicant out of her own free will.
The counsel argued that Section 379 (rape) was not applicable against his client, who was in custody since Nov 3, since the girl had attained puberty, thus she was able to get married in the light of Islamic laws as well as judgements of superior courts.
He argued that the Supreme Court, the Federal Shariat Court and the higher courts in their judgments passed had declared that any girl or boy would be considered adult on attaining puberty.
The apex courts have also ruled that where there is any contradiction in the law of the land the Islamic law will prevail, he added.
Advocate Jibran Nasir for the complainant vehemently opposed the bail plea.
Interim bail of cleric, others confirmed
The same court confirmed pre-arrest bail granted to cleric Abdul Rasool Naqshbandi, Justice of Peace Azharuddin and Advocate Mahmood Hasan, booked for allegedly facilitating the child marriage of Arzoo and issuing certificate of her free-will marriage.
They had moved applications seeking confirmation of interim pre-arrest bail granted to them earlier against a surety of Rs100,000 each.
Sharjeel Memon assets case
An accountability court on Thursday fixed January 12 for indictment of former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and seven other suspects in an alleged Rs2.27 billion assets accumulation case.
Memon, his mother, wife, along with nine others, have been booked in a second reference for allegedly accumulating assets over Rs2.27bn beyond known sources of income.
On Thursday, when the matter came up before the accountability court concerned for indictment, Mr Memon appeared before the court, but his wife Sadaf Sharjeel and some other suspects were absent.
The judge deferred indictment due to absence of some suspects and fixed the matter for Jan 12.