The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered all provincial law enforcing agencies to remain vigilant and ensure through swift and strict action that girls and women are not exchanged to settle local disputes through the jirga system.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also asked the federal and the provincial governments to ensure all citizens were protected against this high handedness by implementing court’s previous judgments and relevant laws that discourages jirga system.
On Thursday the SC bench took up a July 6 incident of ‘vani’ when a jirga in a remote village Bangla Gabool, five kilometres away from Rajanpur had ordered one Noor Hassan either to hand over his three sisters along with Rs1 million as compensation for allegedly killing a man, Mukhtar Hussain. If he failed to accede to this demand, Noor would have had to give his life, the jirga decreed.
An official of Rajanpur informed the bench that Noor was first subjected to the testimony called “doobah”. In this exercise the jirga asked him to spend a considerable time inside water. If he did not drown, it would be enough to prove him innocent.
The accused failed to pass the test that led to the belief that Noor killed Mukhtar so had to compensate the victim’s family with the hand of his three sisters and a million rupees.
The incident was highlighted by the electronic media as a result of which the police arrested nine members of the jirga.
The bench while disposing the case suggested the government launch an awareness campaign by involving educational institutions, media and NGOs to ensure implementation of the laws against the jirga system to protect the lives of the victims of the jirga decisions by enforcing their fundamental rights in terms of Article 9 of the constitution which relates to the security of a person.
The court however disposed the matter since the case had been registered by the police and therefore no further action was demanded.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.