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Offence of rape invoked against husband in underage marriage case

KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Wednesday invoked offence of rape against main suspect Syed Ali Azhar in a case pertaining to alleged underage marriage of a Christian girl, who has reportedly converted to Islam.

The judge also ordered registration of a case against Ali Azhar, cleric Qazi Abdul Rasool Naqshbandi, who allegedly performed the underage marriage of Arzoo with Ali Azhar, justice of peace who issued certificate of her free-will marriage, and facilitators and witnesses — including Mohammad Danish, Habib, Mahmood Hasan and Junaid Ali Siddiqui — under Section 3 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013.

The magistrate issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the absconding suspects.

The judge sent the matter to the district and sessions’ judge (South) for initiating trial.

Interestingly, the judge ruled that the investigating officer of the case is at liberty to determine the question of issuance of sanad (certificate of conversion of religion) in accordance with the Supreme Court’s judgment (SCMR-474 of 2014), which was raised by the complainant’s counsel during the course of arguments.

On Wednesday, judicial magistrate (South) Muhammad Ali Dall pronounced his judgement on the charge sheet filed by the IO after hearing arguments from the state prosecutor, defence counsel Mohammad Nizar Tanoli and the counsel for the complainant Jibran Nasir and Asghar Narejo.

In his 20-page order, the judge noted that it appears that elements of Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 3 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 are applicable against suspect Syed Ali Azhar.

Section 3 states: “Whoever, being a male above eighteen years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment, which may extend to two years or with fine, which may extend to one hundred thousand rupees or with both.”

The magistrate accepted the charge sheet filed by the IO and took cognizance under Section 376 of the PPC and Section 3 of the SCMRA, 2013 against suspect Ali Azhar.

Babar Ghauri properties’ attachment

An accountability court on Wednesday allowed time till Dec 23 to the IO for completing the process of attachment of properties of former minister Babar Ghauri in a case pertaining to alleged corruption through illegal jobs’ regularization in the Karachi Port Trust.

Mr Ghauri, along with then KPT chairmen Javed Hanif, Rauf Akhtar Farooqui and others, has been charged with illegal regularization of 940 employees of the KPT.

When the matter came up before the accountability court-II judge Aaliya Latif Unnar, the IO requested for more time for completing the process of attachment of the ex-minister’s properties.

Allowing the request, the judge adjourned the hearing and directed the IO to submit a compliance report on Dec 23.

Six accused, including a sitting legislator belonging to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Javed Hanif Khan, have been indicted in the case.

The court had separated the matter against Babar Ghauri and ordered the IO to initiate the proceedings of his proclamation and attachment of his properties.

Newspaper: Dawn