While the Peshawar Family Court is left with three days to decide the runaway Afghan couple’s case, legal experts say the case is beyond the jurisdiction of Pakistani courts.
Chief justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) Dost Muhammad Khan had taken a suo motu notice of the death threats given to the Afghan couple that ran away from Afghanistan in May and got married in Abbottabad.
The court then asked authorities to produce the couple before the PHC and later gave the family court 40 days to resolve the dispute over conjugal rights between two Afghan nationals Abdul Rehman 60, and Haiwad 23 over a 22-year-old woman named Maryam.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Quratulain asked Maryam to submit her reply against Rehman’s claim that she has been his wife since 2006. The hearing will resume today (Thursday).
Legal experts say, however, that the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, under which the case is being heard, only applies for the Muslim citizens of Pakistan. Cases involving foreign nationals do not fall under the jurisdiction of family courts.
Rehman’s counsel Ejaz Sabi said that under Section 5 of the Family Court Act, the jurisdiction of the family court is subject to the provision of the Family Court Ordinance 1961.
He said that according to the 1961 Ordinance, the law is not applicable for non-Muslims and non-Pakistanis.
“This is beyond the jurisdictions of a Pakistani court and my humble view is that the chief justice of the PHC has gone beyond the mandate of the law,” said Sabi.
“The law clearly says that it is only for Pakistani Muslim citizens,” said PHC Bar Association’s President Abdul Latif Afridi. If any Afghan national or any other foreigner commits a crime and violates Pakistani law, they should be treated under the relevant section of the Pakistan Penal Code, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.