Islamabad: Accused girl declared underage & of low mental level
ISLAMABAD: The medical board, constituted on the order of the special magistrate, Islamabad, to determine the age of the Christian girl, Rimsha, who was allegedly involved in a blasphemy case, has declared her underage in a report submitted to the concerned authorities. Her age was assessed under 14 and mental level not at par with her age, well-placed sources told ‘The News’. According to legal experts, the FIR against the girl, with a mental level of an eleven–year old, should be quashed immediately. The travesty of justice in Rimsha’s case could be gauged from the fact that the law of the land was ignored at every stage, they opined. According to the Rule 10 (3) of the Juvenile Justice Rules, the minor girl could not, in any circumstances, be detained in police lock-up or sent to jail. The Section 82 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) defines the act of a child less than seven years of age, saying, “Nothing is an offence, which is done by a child under seven years of age.” While Section 83 of the PPC elaborates the act of a child above seven and under twelve of immature understanding, saying, “Nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.”
The legal experts, giving references of the law, averred that police and courts, violating the law, kept the girl in illegal detention, adding that she was in prison for the last nine days but the court remained silent.
The Islamabad Juvenile Rules 2001, SRO–867 (i/2001), clearly say about the establishment of Borstal Institution in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). The Rule 4 (1) says, “The government shall establish and maintain at least one Borstal Institution in the ICT to keep and accommodate juveniles therein.”
The Rule 10 of the JJR says, “Female juveniles shall be detained in a separate enclosure of the Borstal Institution exclusively for the purpose.”The Rule 10 (2) says, “In case, there is no such enclosure as mentioned in Section 1 of JJR, they shall immediately be transferred to the care-home by the court.”
And the Rule 10 (3) says, “Female juveniles shall, in no case, be kept in police lock-up or prison.” The Section 7 of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000 determines the age of the accused, saying, “If a question arises as whether a person before it, is a child, for the purpose of this Ordinance, the Juvenile Court shall record a finding after such inquiry which shall include a medical report for determination of the age of the child.”
The legal experts said if the court conducts inquiry for the determination of the age, the medical report is must for the determination of the age. The Section 2(B) of the Ordinance says, “The child means, a person who, at the time of commission of the offence, has not attained the age of 18 years.”
While Section 9 of the Ordinance clearly says, “A probation officer shall assist the court by making a report on the child’s character, education, social and moral background.”
Chaudhary Tahir Naveed, counsel of Rimsha, lodged an application on Thursday (August 23) with the Additional District Magistrate, Farasat Ali Khan, requesting him to constitute a medical board to ascertain the age of the accused girl.
The additional district magistrate, taking action on the application, sought comments from the SSP, Islamabad. The SSP, Islamabad, in his observations, recommended that a medical board should determine the age of the girl with the suggestion for her psychological analyses.
ChaudharyTahirNaveed, in his application, said: “As per birth certificate issued by the authority concerned, the age of the petitioner is about 11 years. Now, in these circumstances, it is necessary in the great interest of justice to appoint a medical board for determination of her age.”
The report forwarded by the ASP (Ramna Circle) to the SSP Islamabad says: “The accused girl, booked under Section 295-B, was arrested by the Ramna Police and according to the law sent to the jail. It is important to determine her age and examine her mental soundness by establishing a medical board to ascertain the facts.” But the jail administration refused to follow the order of the additional district magistrate. However, Rimsha’s counsel got the same order from the court of special magistrate.
The milieu of the episode is that the Ramna Police, succumbing to people’s pressure, lodged an FIR against the Christian girl, Rimsha, under blasphemy law for burning a page of ‘Noorani Qaeda’ on the night of August 16 (Thursday).
Police said that dozens of people hailing from MehraBadi staged a protest demonstration and blocked Kashmir Highway and damaged police post demanding to lodge an FIR against the Christian girl and arrest her for allegedly committing the offence of blasphemy by burning a page of the Holy Qur’aan.
A high police officer who investigated into the matter found that 10–year–old Rimsha, resident of MehraJafar, burnt a page of ‘Noorani Qaeda’ unintentionally. The officer, in his report, termed the allegation as baseless adding that the allegation levelled against an innocent girl didn’t meet the criteria of committing blasphemy and she was not at all intelligent and just a child who didn’t even, know the law.
Police, ignoring SOP of judging criteria to register a case of blasphemy, registered the FIR and arrested her. Later, the girl was sent to Adiala Jail on judicial remand on August 18, which was again a violation of the Rule 10(3) of the Juvenile Justice Rules.