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CJP takes notice of jirga asking man to pay fine or ‘surrender’ daughter

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday ordered the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Ghotki to submit a comprehensive report about a jirga (tribal court) convened by some influential people, who allegedly ordered a man to pay a big amount of money as fine or hand over his three-year-old daughter into a marriage.

The order came on an application filed by a man, Ali Hassan, son of Shah Mohammad Mazari, through the Human Rights Cell.

The applicant stated that he was a resident of Ghotki district. He further stated that he was made to appear before a jirga convened by some influential people belonging to the Mazari tribe to settle a certain matter with him.

The applicant claimed that the jirga ordered him to pay a fine of Rs300,000 or else he would have to give his three-year-old daughter into a marriage.

Mr Hassan pleaded that he was not in a position to pay the fine. He appealed for protection to him and his daughter and action against those who convened the jirga.

Taking cognizance of the matter, CJP Mian Saqib Nisar ordered the Ghotki SSP to submit a comprehensive report about the matter within the next two days.

The judiciary in the past has been taking serious notice of the holding of jirgas and their decrees based on tribal customs like vani, swara etc under which women or underage girls are ordered to be handed over to the aggrieved side in a dispute. The guilty side is often made to pay a heavy fine or hand over a female member of the family to the other side to settle the dispute.

Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that prohibits child marriages but the commitment is seldom honoured with the result that handing over of underage girls into marriage to someone as an alternative to fine money is common in the rural areas of the country.

On July 11, 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered the provincial law-enforcement agencies to remain vigilant and ensure through swift and strict action that girls and women were not exchanged to settle disputes through jirgas.

In its April 24, 2006 verdict, the court had ordered the federal government to introduce amendment to the relevant section of the Pakistan Penal Code or make an insertion in the Family Act of 1964 with the aim of getting the marriages held under vani dissolved. The apex court had also directed registrars of high courts as well as presidents and general secretaries of the district and tehsil bar associations to form legal aid committees that could provide proper legal assistance to victims of vani or swara.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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