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Arzoo Raja case: SHC directs formation of medical board to determine girl’s age

A two-member bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito heard a set of petitions filed on the matter. Photo: File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday has ordered the provincial home secretary to form a medical board to determine Arzoo’s age, who was allegedly abducted, forcefully converted, and married to a 44-year-old man, Geo News reported.

A two-member bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito heard a set of petitions filed on the matter.

During the hearing, a counsel for Arzoo sought quashing of an FIR registered against her alleged husband, Syed Azhar Ali, for abduction, forced conversion, and marriage to a minor girl.

The court, however, observed that the matter now was about the girl’s age. To this, the counsel said a separate law would be applied in that case.

Arzoo’s lawyer said the bench should record her statement on abduction. When asked, the girl denied being abducted and added that she wanted to stay with her alleged husband.

When Arzoo informed the court that she was 18 years of age, the bench pointed out that the NADRA documents said otherwise as the official records say she is a 13-year-old minor.

The Sindh advocate general requested the high court to not record the girl’s statement. To which, Justice Agha noted that the girl has responded to three questions asked by the judges.

Meanwhile, Barrister Salahuddin appeared in court on behalf of the Federal Minister of Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari.

Observing that the case can only proceed once the girl’s age is determined, the bench directed authorities to submit a final report on her age in the next hearing on November 9. Until then, Arzoo will remain at a shelter home.

Case history

The matter came into light last week after the reports of the minor girl’s kidnapping, forceful conversion, and marriage surfaced on social media prompting the Sindh government and civil rights activists to take notice and file separate petitions in the Sindh High Court.

On Monday, the high court directed the police to recover the minor girl and move her to a shelter home within three days.

Another case is being heard in a city court on an FIR registered by Arzoo’s father, Raja. The prime suspect, Syed Azhar Ali, was arrested by the Anti-Violent Crime Cell and sent on a three-day physical remand.

The local magistrate has also directed Sindh Police to submit a DNA report to determine Arzoo’s age and other evidence before the bench on the next hearing.

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