The Supreme Court's Karachi registry (SC) on Thursday disposed of a petition filed by Dua Zehra’s father, challenging the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision to allow the teenager to stay with her husband.
A three-judge bench comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazha heard the petition.
The bench stated that the case did not fall in the purview of their jurisdiction, adding that the petitioners must appeal to the relevant forum.
Justice Shah asked whether a medical examination of Dua had been conducted to which Mehdi Kazmi’s counsel, Jibran Nasir, confirmed that the step had been completed.
The court added that while the issue of child marriage is “understood”, a case cannot be made for kidnapping as the teenager had agreed to appear in court and give statements by her own will.
Justice Shah remarked that her statements were made in two courts, questioning her father, “what is your problem? If she meets you and says she wants to be with her husband, what will you say?”
While the apex court sympathized with the girl's father, the bench upheld that false accusations cannot be made regarding coercion and kidnapping.
Justice Mazhar added that only a woman can challenge the status of her marriage as the law is clear.
Justice Akhtar remarked that the petitioner could file a guardian's case in the sessions court and file a civil suit.
“We understand the sensitivity of the case but do not get emotional. You have read the Marriage Act, only a girl can challenge her marriage or file a case of harassment and kidnapping,” the justice stated adding that “even if the marriage takes place under the age of 16, the nikkah remains. Even if the marriage takes place at a younger age, it cannot be terminated.”
The apex court reserved its verdict, however, counsellor Jibran Nasir requested the petitioner to withdraw his application after which the court disposed of the application.
On June 18 the father of Dua, a Karachi teenager who went missing and found married, moved the top court against the verdict of SHC that allowed the girl to decide on her own whether she wanted to live with her husband or parents.
According to the petition filed on behalf of Mehdi, the high court's verdict was based on Dua's statement and the medical report related to the case.
It further said that the medical report states the girl's age as 17, while it is 14 according to her educational documents and the record available with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The plea added that police submitted the challan in the 'C' class in the trial court, adding that the SHC decision was flawed.
SHC on June 6, issued a written order in the Dua Zahra case, observing no evidence was found that the girl had been abducted.
“I got married of my own free will. No one kidnapped me; I want to go with my husband Zaheer and do not wish to see my parents,” revealed Zehra in a statement recorded under oath before the SHC.
A two-member bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Junaid Ghaffar, in its written order, said that the girl stated that she was 17 to 18 years old and had married out of her own free will. The bench observed that Dua claims that her father had filed a false case of kidnapping, though he knew that she had gone on her own free will. “No evidence was found of the girl's abduction,” the court remarked.
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