IHC orders action against three nikah registrars

Judge says registration of underage marriages is a criminal offence


Saqib Bashir June 25, 2019
Islamabad High Court. PHOTO COURTESY: IHC WEBSITE

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered legal action against three nikah registrars involved in solemnising and registering nikahs of underage people.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani of the IHC said registration of underage marriages is a criminal offence, while three nikah registrars have repeatedly been nominated in such cases. One of them has 28 cases registered against him.

The judge ordered the police to take action against those registering marriages of underage people and revoke the licences of such nikah registrars.

The court also advised the authorities to send copies of its verdict to Islamabad’s police chief and commissioner with the direction to ensure its implementation in letter and spirit.

The directed the police to also ascertain the age of a girl who is reported to have been married after being kidnapped. And if found underage, then a case must be registered against the Nikah registrar over Child Marriage Act violation.

According to the court orders, a Christian woman, named Alisha Bibi, had filed a petition in the IHC through her attorney, Sheraz Ahmed Ranjha, in which she said her daughter, Neha Pervez, had been kidnapped from the jurisdiction of Shalimar police station.
Alisha claimed that her daughter is less than 13 years old, while the respondent claimed that Neha had converted to Islam and married a man, named Umar. According to Alisha's attorney, the marriage had been performed in contravention of Article 36 of the Constitution.

Article 36 (Protection of Minorities) says, “The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the federal and provincial services.

The petitioner’s daughter, Neha, said in her statement that she had converted to Islam out of her free will and subsequently married Umar. She gave the same statement before Judicial Magistrate (West Islamabad) Ambreen Iqbal Chaudhry and at the National Commission for Women.

Though Neha claims to be 19 years old, but the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) says in its report that she 16-plus.
The IHC is referring the case back to the trial court for ascertaining the girl’s age.

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