SHC grants custody of Karachi teenage girl to her parents

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The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday temporarily handed over a teenage girl who was reported as kidnapped last year but later found to have purportedly eloped in Punjab  to her parents in Karachi after she told the court that she wanted to live with her family.

The girl, until today, had been residing in a shelter home, while her father, Syed Mehdi Kazmi, had reached out to the court to seek his daughter’s custody as well as orders for revocation of her alleged marriage with Zaheer Ahmed the man who was purported to have tied the knot with her in Punjab. Justice Iqbal Kalhoro took up the petition for hearing on Friday.

The girl, her father and Ahmed were in court. At the outset, the court summoned the girl and asked her whether she wanted to live with her parents. She replied in the affirmative.

After recording her statement, the court ordered authorities to grant custody of the girl to her parents “temporarily”, while noting that a decision regarding her permanent custody would be taken by a trial court.

The judge also ruled that a child protection officer would visit the girl every Saturday along with a lady police officer. The police officer had to submit a report to the trial court after each meeting.

The judge also directed the girl’s parents to submit surety bonds of Rs1 million. As the hearing continued, Justice Kalhoro said the parents now had a significant responsibility now that the girl was placed in their custody.

“What guarantee will you give to the court [that the girl will remain safe]?” the judge asked the girl’s father. He was of the view that no one wanted to leave their parents’ house, adding that the girl was young and wished to go with her parents.

On the other hand, Ahmed’s counsel argued that the case was inadmissible as the same plea was pending before the trial court. He insisted that the girl must be asked whether she wanted to live with her parents or not. He also sought the court’s directives to permit Ahmed to meet the girl.

Meanwhile, Kazmi’s counsel, Advocate Jibran Nasir, tweeted that “the child is finally going home” after she “unequivocally” informed the court that she wanted to reside with her parents. “There are many lessons to be learned from this case & reforms are needed to curb child marriages,” he said.