Police criticised for failing to probe all aspects of maid’s abuse case

ISLAMABAD: The capital police’s failure to defend its final progress report of its investigation into the abuse of a child employed as a maid invited the ire of the Supreme Court of Wednesday, as it did not involve crucial aspects of the case, such as how an alleged settlement between the suspect and the victim’s family materialised.

Police criticised for failing to probe all aspects of maid’s abuse case

Police criticised for failing to probe all aspects of maid’s abuse case

A three member bench of the SC, led by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing a suo motu case of abuse of Tayyaba, a 10-year-old domestic employee and the subsequent settlement between the victim’s family and the suspects, additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar.

In the first week of January, the court directed the police to investigate the matter from all aspects. In a subsequent hearing on Jan 11, the court observed that the role of Chakwal-based lawyer Raja Zahoor Hassan, who started a practice in Islamabad within the last couple of years, was of key importance in an “illegitimate” settlement between the ADSJ and Tayyaba’s family.

The court has also directed the police to investigate how the compromise deed was prepared as well as issues related to internal trafficking.

SC asks if case attracts PPC section 370, on ‘buying or disposing of any person as a slave’

On Jan 2, the ADSJ reached a settlement with Tayyaba’s parents, based on which Ms Zafar was granted pre-arrest bail by ADSJ Raja Asif Mehmood the same day. On Jan 3, ADSJ Atta Rabbani handed over custody of Tayyaba to her parents in a manner deemed “hasty” by the SC.

On Tuesday, the police submitted its final progress report on the investigation and a complete list of charges before the trial court.

The police report focused solely on the child’s abuse and the possible involvement of ADSJ Khan and his wife. Despite the court’s directive, the report did not touch on the way the settlement was reached or on internal trafficking.

The court also observed that relevant sections of the PPC were not invoked against the suspects.

Justice Nisar observed that the court was aware of how the two ADSJs granted bail and handed over custody of Tayyaba in haste, and “as per material on record, both the ADSJs made decisions on the basis of the alleged compromise”.

He said: “We may summon these ADSJs as well to inquire how they granted bail and gave custody of the child.”

Justice Nisar asked police why they did not investigate how Tayyaba’s relatives reached Mr Hassan, who took them to the lawyer, and why the lawyer did not join the investigation.

In response, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Kashif Alam said: “So far, we have examined the aspect related to the torture of the minor girl.”

Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked how the police could submit a complete list of charges before the trial court while the investigation was still in progress, adding: “The court had asked to examine all the aspects, and not a single aspect must be ignored.” “We would take action against the police,” Justice Bandial said.

Justice Nisar also remarked that the court would look into all the aspects of the case, adding that bail granted to ADSJ Khan and Ms Zafar could be cancelled.

He also inquired about the legal status of the bail when the settlement had lost its essence in light of the statements made by the legal heirs before the court. He noted that more sections have been included in the case, and the suspects have not obtained bail under those sections.

Asma Jahangir, the counsel for rights activists, said the police report was completely silent on those involved in providing children for employment. She said it was important to see the conduct of judicial officers who allegedly provided cover to the suspects.

The chief justice directed the prosecution to examine whether the case attracts section 370 – the buying or disposing of any person as a slave – of the PPC.

Section 370 states: “Whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells or disposes of any person as a slave, or accepts, receives or detains against his will any person as a slave, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Justice Nisar granted the parties three weeks to give their input on the matter of domestic work and workers, and the police a week to complete its investigation and submit a final report in the case.

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