ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared jurisdiction and decided on Friday to hold the trial of a judge and his wife allegedly accused of abusing their 10-year-old housemaid.
Justice Aamer Farooq ordered to conduct the trial at the IHC while deciding the jurisdiction of the trial in the case.
Meanwhile, the court dismissed an application filed by members of civil society on the issue of jurisdiction, observing that the petitioner had no locus standi in the case.
In a bid to deflect the notion that a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in any subordinate court, the high court decided on its own to try the suspects.
Earlier, Justice Farooq had reserved the order after the parties concerned concluded their arguments on March 17.
According to the judgment, the trial was being shifted from the sessions court to the IHC to ensure transparency.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar were booked after the victim accused them of keeping her in wrongful confinement, burning her hand, beating and detaining her besides threatening her of even worse.
On March 8, the Supreme Court halted the housemaid’s trial and tasked the IHC to consider transferring the case to either another trial court or consider assuming its own jurisdiction in the case.
Currently, Judicial Magistrate Islamabad Syed Haider Ali Shah was conducting the trial.
Members of civil society, represented by Asma Jahangir, had also urged the court to transfer the case to high court to ensure a transparent trial.
The counsels for the judge and his wife, Raja Rizwan Abbasi and Sardar Taimur Aslam, respectively, opposed the transfer of trial, saying it would affect the suspects’ right to appeal. They maintained that if the trial was shifted to the high court, the judge would lose two forums of appeal — the district and sessions court and high court.
Interestingly, the maid and her parents’ counsel, Ilyas Siddiqui, had also opposed the move.
The Supreme Court took suo motu action in the case after a compromise was struck between the parties concerned under questionable circumstances.
The Supreme Court voiced serious concerns over the compromise, handing over of the child maid and the suspicious role of the counsel for the legal heirs of the maid.
On January 3 this year, the victim’s father ‘forgave’ the judge and his wife ‘in the name of God’.
Following the compromise, ADSJ Atta Rabbani had hastily handed over the housemaid’s custody while Judge Asif Mehmood approved the compromise after the lawyer for the legal heirs, and an uncle of the girl, identified them as the parents and guardians.
Later, Judge Mehmood also granted interim bail to Judge Khan, who was made an OSD by the IHC in line with the findings of an earlier inquiry till February 1.
The SC, however, overruled the pardon granted to the suspects by exercising parental jurisdiction in the matter.
The police probe into the incident involving brutal torture on the maid has so far pointed out violence and abuse meted out to the victim by the sessions judge’s wife, who himself was accused of employing the minor as maid in the first place.
During formal interrogation, the police said, Zafar and Judge Khan denied these allegations.