ISLAMABAD: The story of a child maid allegedly tortured by a judge and his wife took a new turn on Wednesday. The Supreme Court was informed that the counsel for the legal heirs of Tayyaba who had ‘pardoned’ Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife, Maheen Zafar is a relative of the suspects.
The alleged father of Tayyaba confessed before a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar that he was unaware of any ‘compromise’ with the judge and his wife. He added that his lawyer, Raja Zahoorul Hassan, had assured him that the family would get their girl’s custody only if he affixed thumb impressions on the affidavit.
The bench voiced serious concerns at the loopholes in the ‘compromise’ acquired under questionable circumstances, hasty handover of the child maid, and the suspicious role of the counsel for the legal heirs.
The bench sent Tayyaba to the Pakistan Sweet Homes and directed that she be provided psychological assistance as “only she can tell what had really happened to her” once she comes out of fear while living along other children at the orphanage.
The order came after the bench was informed that according to NADRA’s record, the girl’s name was not there in the family tree of Muhammad Azam and Nusrat Bibi, who had reached a ‘compromise’ with the judge through their lawyer. “Azam’s CNIC is expired,” the advocate general Islamabad, Mian Abdul Rauf, informed the court.
Chief Justice Nisar also directed the police to investigate the lawyer’s role as he housed the girl and her family at a bungalow at Barma Chowk in Barma Town after Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Atta Rabbani had handed over the girl’s custody to the alleged parents ‘in a hasty manner without verification’.
“Raja’s character is very important as he is a relative of the accused and did not allow the family to contact anyone,” Chief Justice Nisar noted.
The court was also informed that Hassan and another man at the Barma Chowk bungalow, Fawad, had removed SIMs from the cellphones of the family so that the media could not get in touch with them.
In his statement, Azam said that he handed over the girl to Nadira, a neighbour in the village, on August 14, 2016 against an advance payment of Rs18,000 and Rs3,000 per month and she, subsequently, sent the girl to Faisalabad to work as a babysitter. Later, he said, Nadira told him that the girl had been moved to Islamabad where she was working as a babysitter at a judge’s house. He admitted that the parents had never met the child and only talked to her on phone.
Azam revealed that he came to Islamabad after he saw the tortured girl on television. He added that a local landlord, Rai Usman Kharal, had provided car and driver to bring him, the girl’s alleged mother Nusrat Bibi, paternal uncle Allah Ditta and paternal aunt Pathani to the capital for two consecutive days. He said that Nadira, Ditta and Pathani came to the capital and met the lawyer a day earlier than him and his wife.
“Whom did you forgive in the name of God,” Chief Justice Nisar asked Azam. “I do not know what was written in the papers. I don’t know if I have pardoned anyone. The lawyer said affix your thumb impression on papers and you will get custody of your daughter,” he replied. “I did what he said to get my daughter.”
The mother was asked if the parents received any money to forgive the judge and his wife. To this, she replied “I don’t know.”
The court noted that the medical report of the child has confirmed 22 injuries on her body and now the investigators have to determine liability and how did it happen. Chief Justice Nisar added that there was no embargo on police against investigating as the court “wants this to be very transparent.”
“We must reach the truth,” Chief Justice Nisar remarked while directing the police to complete investigation within 10 days and submit a comprehensive report before the court. The court also directed that the DNA report of parents be submitted as soon as it was received.
The court also directed the police to check if there was any gang operating and gaining monetary benefits by providing children for domestic work. In addition, the court said that there was no mechanism to ensure security and protection of the children, especially of girls, adding no data was available in this regard.
Meanwhile, the other claimant parents withdrew their application saying the girl was not their daughter. They, however, requested the court to direct the officials concerned to find their ‘missing children.’ The court ordered the DIGs of the relevant divisions to look into the matters and submit a report before the registrar of the SC in 15 days. The case was adjourned till January 18.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2017.