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Marriage claim case: Court orders probe into jirga decision

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday ordered judicial inquiry into the allegation that a local jirga had fined a petitioner for violating a customary practice called ghag under which a man could lay claim on a female for marriage.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth took exception to the non-compliance of its earlier order by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government about enacting a law for checking the practices of swara and ghag. The bench gave last chance to the government for introducing a law in this regard.

Lal Jan Khattak, an additional advocate general, sought two weeks time for activating all relevant heads of departments for tabling a proper bill in the provincial assembly to make such detestable acts punishable with sufficient imprisonment and fine so that the evil phenomenon was brought to a halt.

The bench ordered that it would be last chance for the provincial government otherwise the court would be constrained to pass an order regarding unwillingness of government to enact a law so as to prevent such sins and crimes and also to assess what kind of writ be issued in that regard. The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by father of two minor girls, Mohammad Nawaz, who alleged that a jirga comprising some members of local peace committee had ordered him to pay Rs275,000 to his two nephews because he had denied giving hands of his daughters to them in marriage.

The word ghag literally means “a call” and it stands for a one-sided demand from the male side to have engaged the female for a marriage.

The bench directed Peshawar district and sessions judge to appoint a senior judicial officer to conduct inquiry into the matter and fix criminal responsibility, if any, and submit the inquiry report before next date of hearing.

Advocate Essa Khan appeared for the petitioner and said that one of his daughters, Shaista, was about 13 whereas the second one, Zainab, was around 11. He said that the petitioner used to work as crane operator at UAE for the last 11 years, but owing to that problem he had to rush back to Pakistan on April 9 following which he was expelled from employment and his visa was also cancelled.

Mr Khattak said that as per the earlier orders of the court police had provided security to the family.