KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday observed that since Dua Zehra was still a minor and a key witness in the case, she cannot be permitted to stay on her own in Lahore till attaining maturity and disposal of the case.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro said that the Sindh police were at liberty to take the custody of girl from a shelterhome in Lahore for her production before the trial court in Karachi after it was informed that efforts for shifting Dua were under way.
The bench stated that the court seized with the matter would decide about shifting Dua to any shelter home in Karachi at the time of her production before it.
It further noted that the girl was no more on good terms with her husband and did not want to live with him while she was also ostensibly afraid of her parents and not interested to live with them either and she had no place in Lahore to take shelter for the time being and decide about future.
The bench made these observations while deposing of a petition filed by Dua`s father seeking her recovery and custody.The SHC in its order said that Dua was finding it hard to live with her husband and wary of purported threats by her parents and filed an application before a magistrate in Lahore, who sent her to a shelter home on July 19.
In view of such development, the petitioner`s lawyer pleaded for her shifting from a Darul Aman in Lahore to any Karachi shelter home as the case was pending investigation here.
The counsel for Dua`s purported husband Zaheer opposed the plea stating that the SHC had no jurisdiction to pass such an order as the same was likely to prejudice the right of his client on merits in the case.
The investigating officer of the case informed the bench that the Sindh home departmenthad sent a letter to the Punjab home department on July 15 requesdng for the recovery of the girl.
He added that efforts for her recovery and her shifting from Lahore to Karachi were under way and as soon as permission was granted, he would proceed to Lahore to seek her custody and produce her before the court seized with the matter or lodge her in a shelter home in Karachi.
This stance of IO was also supported by the counsel appearing for the state.
The bench observed that the girl was no more on good terms with her husband and apparently afraid of her parents and not interested to reside with them. `But in any case, her living in Lahore does not seem to be in her benefit from any angleeither, particularly after her separation from her husband, and is likely to cause hindrance in smooth proceedings of the case while her parents, who are her natural guardians are residing here, and the case and the trial court are situated in Karachi,` it added.
`She is still a minor and a main witness in the case is required to participate in its proceedings. Hence she cannot be permitted to be on her own in Lahore till she attains majority and the case is finally disposed of,` the bench in its order ruled.
`In such facts and circumstances, there appears to be no legal or otherwise impediment for this courtin approving, and/ or stopping the IO from performing his official duty and to seek, shifting of her custody fromDarul Aman Lahore and her productionbefore the trialcourtfor the purpose of disposal or otherwise of the case and her lodgment in Panah Shelter Home, Darul Aman, Karachi or Shelter Home for Destitute & Orphan Children Sindh Karachi, as the case may be, to be decided by the court seized with the matter at the time of her production before it,` the SHC order stated.
Pre-arrest bail granted A sessions court on Thursday granted interim pre-arrest bail to Zaheer Ahmed and his brother booked for allegedly kidnapping Dua from Karachi and solemnising her underage marriage in Punjab.
Police have booked Ahmed along with his around 20 rela-tives, including mother and brother for allegedly kidnapping 14-year-old Dua.
On Thursday, both Zaheer and Shabbir moved applications before Additional District and Sessions Judge (East) Rajesh Chandar Rajput to seek prearrest bail.
The judge granted interim bail before arrest to both the suspects subject to furnishing a surety of Rs100,000 each.
The judge directed them to join the investigation and fixed July 26 for confirmation or otherwise of their interim bail.
Earlier, defence counsel Aamir Riyaz submitted that his client, Zaheer, had obtained protective bail from the Lahore High Court`s Multan bench and wanted to join the investigation, but apprehended his arrest.