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Same sex couple’ case not heard

*Judge unavailable as he had to attend another bench

LAHORE: Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif of the Lahore High Court (LHC) did not hear the case of transsexual Shumail and his ‘wife’ Shahzina on Monday because he had to hear another case. The couple had filed for an exemption from personal appearance in the hearings of a case against their marriage.

The court had summoned them on September 21 for the hearing of their exemption plea. The couple arrived at the court early and waited till 10:30am. However, the judge announced that he had to attend another bench and could not hear the cases that had remained unheard. Shumail and Shahzina’s case was amongst them.

The court did not fix a date for the hearing of the petition. The main case against their marriage is also pending in court for an indefinite period due to a similar delay.

Shahzina told reporters at her counsel’s chambers that Shumail and her faced a lot of problems. She said they were currently living at the ASR Resource Centre’s office. She said they had suffered enough for lying to the court once and now they wanted to be free and live respectably. Justice (r) Zahid Hussain Bokhari, the counsel of the couple, said the case against their marriage was not strong and they could be acquitted in one or two hearings.

The LHC had on May 28 sentenced Shumail and Shahzina to three years rigorous imprisonment and fined each of them Rs 10,000 for lying in court about Shumail’s sex. They had said that Shumail was a man, but a medical report proved otherwise. The Supreme Court granted them bail on July 17, but their marriage case is still pending in the LHC.

The couple’s counsel, Rana Sajjad Hussain, had moved an application in the court to exempt the couple from appearing in person during the hearings of their marriage case. The couple sought exemption from personal appearance because Shahzina’s father had allegedly hired hitmen to kill them. Hussain claimed that the hitmen had told Shumail’s brother that they would kill them wherever they saw them. He said Shahzina’s father had also publicly announced that he would have the couple killed. He said Shumail had written an application to the inspector general (IG) of police for police protection, but they had not been provided any protection so far. Hussain said that it was not possible for the couple to appear in court for every hearing amid such life-threats. He said the couple would appear in court only if the judge asked for their presence.

Source: Daily Times