ISLAMABAD: The judge hearing the juvenile housemaid’s torture case has recused himself from future hearings after finding the accused guilty.
Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has sent the case back to the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), requesting that the case be placed before any other bench.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife, Maheen Zafar were booked after a minor housemaid accused them of keeping her in wrongful confinement, burning her hand over a missing broom, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in a storeroom, before threatening her with even worse.
Justice Kayani said that since he has conducted and concluded the enquiry proceedings against the judge, found him guilty and already suggested punishment, he can’t conduct trial proceedings any further.
During the hearing, the counsel for suspects Raja Muhammad Farooq, Raja Rizwan Abbasi and Sohail Akhtar said they do not have any objection to the judge, but agreed that because the same judge conducted the inquiry, it would be better if he does not also conduct the trial.
To this, Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf said the court was empowered to simultaneously conduct criminal and civil proceedings.
Earlier, Justice Kayani, while ruling that the application for compounding the offence with the parents of the minor was not maintainable, had indicted the suspects and directed the prosecution to produce witnesses and evidence.
The suspects pleaded ‘not guilty’ and were currently standing trial.
While turning down the request to accept compromise between the parties, Justice Kayani had noted that the provisions of law impose a duty upon the court to consider the details of the case, nature of the offence, and benefits of compounding, along with the nature of the crime and the manner in which the offence was committed.
The court had observed: “If the court is of the view that the incident causes terror and sensation in the society or is cruel from its appearance, the court may not agree to compounding the offence.”
“The alleged incident gives a brutal, cruel picture as well as causing terror and sensation in the society,” the judge stated in the order dismissing the compromise between the parties.
In her statement recorded before Justice Kayani on May 23, the 10-year-old victim said that it was Maheen who allegedly burned her hand, back and hit her with a ladle, causing injuries on her hand, eye and back. All this happened, she said, while she was working in “Maheen baji’s house” a few months ago.
On May 24, she was cross-examined and could not answer several questions.
During the cross-examination, the suspects’ counsel posed several questions to the minor and three other witnesses in an attempt to prove the innocence of their clients.
The child was also confronted with her video statement, recorded by the police soon after she was recovered from the judge’s house. In the video statement, the child was heard saying that she was injured after falling from stairs while running.
In the video, she said she was not beaten or tied up, that medical treatment was provided by the accused, and that they treated her the way parents treat their children. She told the defence counsel that she was the one in the video and that she “doesn’t tell lies”.
Meanwhile, Khan, through his counsel, had filed a review petition before an IHC division bench requested suspension of the May 10 decision wherein the suspects were indicted.
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