SHC orders FIR, probe into alleged underage marriage case

HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court’s Hyderabad circuit bench comprising Justice Naimatullah Phulphoto and Justice Sham­sud­din Abbasi on Monday ordered registration of case against SHO of the Umerkot women police station and two private persons if a cognizable offence was made out in the statement of Amisha Khaskheli, a girl at the centre of an underage marriage controversy.

Amisha was produced in court in response to its May 2 order passed on a petition filed by her mother, Umran Khaskheli. SHOs of Samaro, Bodhar Farm police stations and Umerkot and Pithoro women police stations filed their comments.

The police officers stated that SHO [Khushbakht] of the Umerkot women police station along with her subordinates carried out a raid on a ceremony in Haji Hashim Palli village on April 18 to prevent alleged underage marriage. The raid was conducted to check violation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013. The girl, Amisha, daughter of Dilawar Khaskheli, was taken into custody. They stated that Amisha and her parents were brought to the Umerkot women police station where they [parents] pleaded that it was the ceremony for her engagement and not wedding. As such, Amisha was handed over to her mother and other relatives.

Amisha was produce before the civil judge and judicial magistrate-I of Umerkot to record her statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In her “different” statements Amisha said she was busy in the ceremony for her engagement with her cousin Shahzeb. Police carried out a raid at the place at around noon along with Saifullah Palli and Faizullah Palli. She further stated that Saifullah Palli grappled with her and brought her to the women police station where she was given some tranquilliser in water and she fell unconscious. She said that she was made to board a vehicle which was driven by Saifullah. Faizullah, one of the private respondents in her mother’s petition, was also sitting in the vehicle.

She stated that she was taken to some unknown place and was detained. She said that one woman constable had been visiting Saifullah and Faizullah at the house where she had been detained for two days for taking “revenge” from her relatives.

Amisha, who was present in court on Monday, stated that she was handed over by the SHO [Khushbakht] to Saifullah and Faizullah. The bench observed that she [Amisha] levelled serious allegations against Saifullah and Faizullah as well as the woman SHO. Amisha said that she along with her parents approached the Bodhar Farm police station to lodge an FIR but the SHO concerned refused to register her case.

The bench also heard assistant advocate general Bashir Ahmed Chaudhry and deputy prosecutor general Shahzado Saleem Nahiyoon.

The bench said that the in-charge of police station was required to record statement of the complainant regarding commission of offence under Section 154 CrPC but the SHO concerned refused to register the FIR in this case.

The bench ordered the Bodhar Farm SHO to recorded Amisha’s statement and if a cognizable offence was made out, an FIR be registered against the above-named persons [Faizullah and Saifullah].

The court said that an investigation be conducted by an officer not below the rank of an ASP/DSP under intimation to the court.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2018