Court allows Gulnaz to live with husband
HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad circuit bench of the Sindh High Court on Friday allowed Gulnaz Shah, formerly Ravita Meghwar before her conversion to Islam, to go live with her husband af ter she expressed such a wish before the judge.[TOP]
The single-judge bench of Justice Salahuddin Panhwar recorded the woman`s statement in his chamber where she told the judge in the presence of her father, Satram Meghwar, husband Nawaz Ali Shah and counsel of both sides that she would like to go with her husband.
The judge said that Gulnaz was at liberty to continue staying with Nawaz Ali Shah in view of her statement, and directed investigating officer of the case to probe the matter as per law and submit a report before a division bench of the court which would take up the couple`s constitutional petition on June 30.
He directed the woman and her spouse to appear before the division bench.
Zahoor A. Baloch, counsel for the couple, said that Gulnaz had attained the age of adulthood. As per Islamic law, a girl who was either 16 years of age or attained the age of puberty was an adult, he said.
He said that it was a matter to be heard by the division bench which had passed an orderinthisregardonJune14andrequestedthe court to hear out the girl in the chamber.
Bhagwandas Bheel, counsel for Satram, said the girl appeared to be under influence of her husband as she was living in his village. He also expressed doubts over the own-ership of the land where the village was located.
Ali Palh advocate, who is appearing on behalf of a civil society organisation that seeks to become intervener in the case, saidthat in Anjali`s case the SHC had sent the woman to Panah shelter as her marriage had become disputed on the ground of her age.
The court had noted that if she continued to live with her husband it would frustrate the law, he said.
He said that if the court did not give weight to that verdict and the Child Marriage Restraint Act then neither an SHO nor a magistrate would ever implement it. The girl might be kept in a state-run institution where she could stay and marry any man of her choice af ter attaining 18 years of age, he said.
He admitted the Child Marriage Restraint Act was silent over nullity or validity of such a marriage in case an underage girl was married. It was then the court`s responsibility to interpret the law and its ruling would become the law.
He pointed out that Ravita`s primary school leaving certificate was a document which was sacrosanct as far as her age was concerned and it could be verified by the investigating of ficer.
Fauzia Ashraf, women development officer who was required to see the girl in Darul Aman could not meet her. She appeared before the court in compliance with the court`s Thursday order and submitted her suggestions that the girl`s medical check-up could be conducted to determine her age. The state must provide security to her, she said.