Saturday, July 02, 2022
KARACHI: Teenager Dua Zahra underwent various tests on Saturday as authorities try to determine her age in line with court orders, her father’s lawyer confirmed.
The girl had gone missing from her Karachi residence in April but was later found to have married Zaheer Ahmed in Lahore.
The Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) took Zahra into its custody from Lahore and brought her to Karachi earlier today for an ossification test.
The test to determine her age was conducted a second time after her father challenged an earlier test that revealed that the girl’s age was between 16 and 17.
Sources told Geo News X-ray and some other tests were conducted at the Services Hospital, while dental tests were conducted at another hospital. Following this, the police brought her back to Services Hospital.
The Sindh High Court (SHC) had on June 8 said that the teenager, who claims she entered into marriage with Ahmed of her own will, was free to decide her fate.
Her father Mehdi Ali Kazmi challenged the SHC order in the Supreme Court but his plea was disposed of on June 23 as it did not fall under the jurisdiction of the top court.
During the SC hearing, a three-member bench had asked the father to approach relevant forums for the formation of a medical board to ascertain Zahra’s age.
Then, on June 25, Judicial Magistrate-XXIV Aftab Ahmed Bughio directed the Sindh health secretary to decide within a week on the application filed by Kazmi calling for a medical board to determine his daughter’s age as he insisted that she was a minor.
Subsequently, a 10-member medical board was then formed by the Sindh Health Department, which is headed by Dow Medical College Principal Professor Saba Sohail and includes experts in radiology, gynaecology, dentistry, and forensics.
Talking to journalists, the medical board’s head said that in line with the court’s orders, a complete medical assessment of Dua took place today.
“We are preparing the report to determine her age [...] it will be presented before the court on Monday,” she added.
Taking to Twitter, her father’s counsel, Jibran Nasir, said that Zahra was produced before the medical board today for “proper medical age assessment”.
He pointed out that previously, the medical report was prepared by one medical doctor which was “in violation of standard practices and procedure”.
“Please note all offences, in this case, are age-specific,” he said.
Nasir added that as per law, during the trial when considering the evidence, a medical report cannot override documentary proof such as NADRA certificates which have been issued prior to the date of crime.
“However, since a flawed medical report was produced in this case it was imperative to challenge it,” he added.
The Additional District and Sessions Judge East earlier today rejected Zahra’s father's appeal to change the investigation officer (IO) probing her alleged abduction.
The court noted that the judicial magistrate hearing her case has not announced a verdict based on the IO’s challan.
Even if the challan is accepted, the petitioner has the right to appeal, the court said.
The issue to determine her age is still pending with the medical board, it further observed.
Zahra's father had last week filed a plea in the district and sessions court through his lawyer, seeking a replacement of the IO. He claimed that the officer was probing the case in a “biased manner”.