The Sindh High Court (SHC) Hyderabad Circuit Bench ordered the Deputy Commissioners in Sindh to issue instructions to marriage registrars for enforcement of Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013.
The order was given by justice Salahuddin Panhwar in three identical petitions relating to protection of free will marriage couples.
Sindh Home Secretary Qazi Shahid Pervaiz, Secretary Women Development Mudassir Iqbal, representatives of chief secretary and IG Sindh police, deputy director women development department Fauzia Ashraf and other officials attended the hearing.
“I would add here that minority (adolescence) is also one of the factor which results into making girls becoming a prey, used by ill-motivated persons which perhaps was one of the objectives for enactment of Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act,” the judge observed.
“The Act provides that marriage with a girl of less than 18 years of age is an offence. Therefore all Nikkah registrar shall ensure that a girl is having National Identity Card or sufficient proof in shape of school certificate or medical certificate issued by the concerned authorities. Else marriage shall not be registered and in case of violation police officers shall proceed against the delinquent persons,” the order reads.
The Act has declared marrying a young person under 18 years of age as a crime which was punishable with up to 3 years imprisonment. The officials assured the court that 2016 order by SHC Karachi in Rehmat Bibi case would be implemented within a month.
They said under the order the Women Commission which had been established would be made functional and operational and that it would submit its recommendations for providing protection to freewill marriage couples within 15 days.
The Secretary Women Development apprised the court that Safe Houses at taluka level, as ordered in the Rehmat Bibi case, had been established.
Iqbal informed the court that the department’s 3 rehabilitation centers were working in Hyderabad, Nawabshah and Jacobabad districts.
However, when the court asked the official to provide statistics as to how many women had been provided rehabilitation facility at those centers, the official expressed his inability to share the figures.