January 7th, 2021
By Ahmad Saeed
The district and sessions judge, Faisalabad has rejected an application seeking the return of Farah Shaheen to her ‘husband’ Khizar Hayat declaring that the alleged marriage was prima facie in violation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
Shaheen belongs to a Christian family who claims that she was abducted on June 25, 2020, by Khizr Hayat who is seemingly over 40 years old. Three days after the abduction Shaheen suddenly embraced Islam and married Khizar.
A medical board was constituted to determine the age of Shaheen through an ossification test but the board could not decide on the definite age of the girl. However, the board unanimously opined that her age must be between 16 or 17 years.
In the verdict, the judge maintained that since the board failed to ascertain the exact age of Shaheen, their marriage violates the Act.
The court further mentions that the Municipal Corporation Hafizabad has confirmed that the nikah registered between Farah Shaheen and Khizar Hayat was not registered in the Corporation nor the nikah registrar, Shabbir Ahmed who solemnized the nikkah was not a licensed nikah khwan of the corporation.
“It, therefore, appears that the nikah between Khizar Hayat and Mst. Farah Shaheen even otherwise has not been registered. The alleged abductee [Farah Shaheen] since is a child as defined under Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 and her nikah with the petitioner has not been substantiated from the record,” the court order reads.
Shaheen is currently living in Faisalabad Dar ul Aman on orders of the session court.
According to her B-form certificate issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), she was around 12 years old at the time of her abduction and marriage.
A copy of the marriage certificate obtained by Voicepk.net is also tainted with illegalities. The certificate makes no mention of Farah’s age and does not include her identity card number.
The Senate Standing Committee for Human Rights has also taken notice of the case. The committee chaired by PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar expressed displeasure over the police for their biased role in the handling of the case.
While inquiring into the abduction & forced conversion of the young Christian girl, committee found that the police & judiciary failed to protect her. Heart breaking events. SSP has been asked to proceed against IO for failing the victim & her family. 2/2 https://t.co/2GZoZZ91pQ
— Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar (@Mustafa_PPP) December 31, 2020
The police registered an FIR of the case after a delay of three months after the alleged abduction of Shaheen.
The committee asked the CPO Faisalabad to take action against the investigation officer (IO) of the case for failing the victim and her family.
It also directed the Ministry of Human Rights to become a party in the case through Nation Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and file an application in the court to re-constitute a medical board to ascertain the age of Shaheen.
The committee recommends that the new board should consist of doctors from either Lahore or Islamabad.
Senator Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, a member of the committee told Voicepk.net that the police played a partisan role and in the entire proceedings of the case.
“The police tried to highlight every document or aspect that goes in the favor of accused and manipulated the facts of the case in court, hence it is very important to protect the legal rights of the victim by providing her appropriate legal aid,” Saif said.
He said that the Senate’s Human Rights Committee will monitor the case on a regular basis and assure that justice will be served to Shaheen and her family.