A Peshawar High Court bench has set aside conviction and sentence of life awarded to a person by a subordinate court in Upper Dir for kidnapping his minor nephew’s wife for the purpose of marriage and acquitted him of the charge on Monday.
A bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar and Justice Mohammad Ijaz Khan accepted an appeal filed by the convict, Gulzada, a resident of Gandiger area in Upper Dir, ruling that the prosecution had not been able to prove its case against the appellant beyond shadow of reasonable doubt.
The appellant was convicted by an additional district and sessions judge on September 29, 2020, under section 365-B of Pakistan Penal Code (kidnapping or inducing woman to compel for marriage) and was sentenced to life imprisonment with fine of Rs10,000.
The FIR of the occurrence was registered at Barawal police station on April 20, 2010, wherein the appellant’s nephew Qadeem Khan was the complainant.
The complainant, who claimed to be 15-year-old at that time, stated that two years ago he was married to a girl. He alleged that his maternal uncle Gulzada used to visit their residence and developed relations with his wife.
He alleged that a month ago his uncle kidnapped his wife by inducing her for the purpose of marriage. About delay in registration of the case, he stated that due to threats by the appellant lodging of the complaint was delayed.
Initially, the woman was also mentioned as co-accused in the case and was also indicted by the trial court. However, she was later on discharged from the case and only the appellant was tried for the offence. Advocate Syed Abdul Haq appeared for the appellant and contended that the woman was never kidnapped by his client and she had willfully left her residence due to cruel behaviour of the complainant and her in-laws.
He stated that according to facts of the case the girl was married to a brother of the complainant, who had died later. He said that there was no evidence that after death of her former husband her Nikkah was solemnised with the complainant.
He argued that the girl was treated like a slave and had to perform all the household chores including tending of cattle, fetching water, etc. He added that due to harsh behaviour of the complainant, she left her home and took shelter at the residence of the appellant.
He said that later on she married the appellant and now they were having many children.
The bench observed that in order to establish the case against the appellant under section 365-B of PPC, the prosecution was bound to prove through trustworthy and reliable evidence the two basic ingredients of abduction (the act was ‘by force’ and ‘deceitful means’).
The bench observed that the girl was examined as court witness and in her cross examination she stated in unequivocal terms that having fed up with the cruel treatment of Qadeem and her other in-laws, she went to the house of appellant and she was never abducted by him.
It was observed that the prosecution failed to bring any evidence on record of reliable nature to prove that the appellant forcefully compelled the girl or induced her through deceitful means to leave her house with him.