Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s renewed attention to the Tayyaba torture case has prompted proceedings to pick up pace, with a prosecution witness, Assistant Commissioner Nisha Ishtiaq, recording her statement and police presenting case-related evidence in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday.
Justice Amir Farooq of the IHC presided over the proceedings, which concerns abuse suffered by 10-year-old domestic worker Tayyaba from former additional district and sessions judge Raja Khurram Ali and his wife Maheen while she worked at their home.
During Friday’s session, Ishtiaq told the court that she had recorded Tayyaba’s statement after the child was handed over to her by police. “Tayyaba had wounds on her face and hands, and she didn’t know the address of her village,” the assistant commissioner said.
Ishtiaq also told the court that she had not instructed the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) as doing so was not in her powers.
“The FIR was filed on the orders of the authorities concerned,” she clarified.
Adjourning the hearing till January 19, the IHC also issued summons for Constables Naseem, Mariam and Ghulam, while another trio of witnesses set to be called to testify in future hearings. So far, the court has testified seven witnesses.
The Tayyaba torture case had first come to light in December 2016 after Maria Hayat, a neighbour of the accused, uploaded pictures of a heavily injured, underage domestic helper on social media. The police had subsequently taken the girl into custody after recovering her from the judge’s house.
Initially, Tayyaba had told the police that she fell from the stairs and received an injury to her right eye. Later on, however, she revealed that her employers had tortured her, following which the police registered a case against Ali and his wife for keeping the minor in illegal confinement, burning her hand, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in a storeroom and threatening her of dire consequences.
The case had seemed headed for closure when in January 2017 the child’s father said he ‘forgave’ the suspect and his wife. However the high court in May 2017 and a Supreme Court bench rejected the out-of-court settlement, with the latter saying the agreement “lacks merit” as the case is ongoing.
The Supreme Court had also observed that the role of a lawyer, Raja Zahoor Hassan, was of key interest with regards to what it called ‘illegitimate compromise’ reached between the suspects and the child’s family.
CJP Nisar had insisted there was no doubt that a criminal act had been committed in the case and directed police to investigate the preparation of the compromise deed as well as matters related to internal trafficking of child labourers.
The case was dealt a setback on June 2 when the IHC had to form a new bench after Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, who was previously presiding over the bench, recused himself from the case. A week later, a formal charge sheet was issued to the two prime suspects.