Accepting a petition over increasing cases of violence against women, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday issued notices to the interior secretary, chief secretaries of all four provinces and the attorney general of Pakistan.
With the assistance of the newly established National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), the apex court will examine the tradition of exchanging girls in settling disputes through punchayat and jirga systems in the country.
A two-member bench of the supreme court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the petition filed by NCSW Chairperson Anis Haroon for declaring the prevalent jirga system in the country as illegal, unlawful and against the canons of law, which she urged should be prohibited and stopped immediately.
The petitioner revealed that 87 cases of jirgas were reported and 26 cases of vani were witnessed in Sindh in one year.
She requested the bench to give a strong verdict in this regard. Upon this, the chief justice said that the court had already given strong judgments and instructions to appropriate authorities to clamp down on such practices.
Haroon requested the bench that all such actions taken, proceedings conducted and orders passed by any jirga, panchayat or similar bodies should be declared null and void, and appropriate actions be directed against all the culprits who had participate, aid and abet in such illegal activities.
Riffat Inaam, another petitioner, stated that the practice of jirga contravened Articles 4, 8, 9, 10, 10(a), 14, 25, 34 and 37 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which guaranteed legal protection, right to enjoy life, liberty and justice to the citizens of Pakistan. “Such illegal practices are being carried out in various parts of the country with utmost impunity, violating the state laws and fundamental rights of its citizens,” the petitioner added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2012.