A trial court on Monday ordered police to refer the blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih to a juvenile court in the wake of a medical report that showed she was 14.
“We have received the medical report which says she is aged 14. The investigation report of her case must be submitted in a juvenile court,” District and Sessions Judge Raja Jawad Abbas said on Monday.
The judge later adjourned the case till October 1. Imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, who was arrested for allegedly adding pages from the Holy Quran to a bag of burnt papers, has been summoned for the next hearing.
Judge Abbas also directed the police to submit a fresh charge-sheet in accordance with juvenile laws on October 1.
Advocate Rao Abdur Rahim, the lawyer for Rimsha’s neighbour Hammad Malik, who originally accused her, objected to the medical report saying she was 21 years old, but Abbas told him he should apply to the juvenile court when it takes up the case.
Rimsha spent three weeks on remand in an adult jail after she was arrested on August 16 for allegedly burning pages from the Holy Quran in a case that prompted worldwide condemnation.
Rimsha, who is currently free on bail, was also asked to appear following an accusation from Rahim that she had fled to Norway. An official medical report has classified her as “uneducated” and aged 14, but with a mental age younger than her years. Others have said she is as young as 11 and suffers from Down Syndrome.
Rimsha and her family, who have been in fear for their lives since the blasphemy allegations, were moved to an undisclosed location after her release on bail on September 8.
Separately, Rimsha’s lawyer filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking the cancellation of an FIR filed against her on August 16.
The petitioner maintained that the police had registered an FIR at the behest of Rimsha’s neighbour Hammad Malik, saying he had mala fide intentions. The petitioner added that three witnesses in the case had already recorded their statements against Chishti. The petition urged to the court to direct the police to show restraint in treating Rimsha during the pendency of the case.
(With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.