Woman’s motion for 13-year-old abducted daughter--
Sensitive aspect of proceedings held in camera
By George Barclay
June 5, 2004
JUSTICE B. S. Roy, who is now hearing a habeas corpus application in which a woman is alleging that businessman Reeaz Khan had abducted her 13-year old daughter, yesterday ordered that the sensitive aspect of the proceedings be held in camera (in judge’s chambers).
As a consequence, the judge, who had received an affidavit from the Probation Department that dealt with certain maters concerning the child, invited representatives of interested social organisations present, to his chambers along with lawyers for the applicant and the Attorney General’s Chambers, for discussions on the matter.
Before doing this, the judge noted that sections of the press had given the impression that businessman Reeaz Khan was before him on a criminal charge of contempt.
That was not so, the judge explained, and pointed out that what he was concerned with was a habeas corpus application by Bibi Shameeza Hamid, the mother of the child, asking that the child be produced in Court.
Justice Roy stated, “I issued an order calling upon Reeaz Khan to produce the child in Court, and he did so.”
The judge went on to explain that the applicant was represented by Mr. Nigel Hughes and his (the judge’s) subsequent order was that the girl should be kept in the custody of her mother and her aunt.
He said that since then he had not heard from Mr. Hughes, nor has the lawyer filed a motion for contempt alleging that the Order of the Court had been ignored.
“I want it to be made quite clear that no contempt motion is before me,” Justice Roy stated.
When the matter was called yesterday, Senior Counsel Mr. Robin Stoby disclosed that Mr. Hughes was out of the jurisdiction and that he was holding for him.
Mr. Harnanan of the Attorney General’s Chambers appeared for the Attorney General.
While Mr. Stoby supported the idea of the matter being heard in Chambers, he said that he saw no reason why a person who flouts the Court’s Order should not be punished.
Reacting to this, the judge again pointed out that there was no motion relating to contempt before him.
Before the judge ascended the Bench yesterday morning, a large crowd of picketers began demonstrating outside of the High Court. They carried placards condemning the act of the businessman Reeaz Khan and calling on the Government to introduce legislation to protect children of tender years from paedophiles.
The protestors included social organisations made up of people of all walks of life. One such body was Men of Purpose, whose banner read, “Promoting Responsible Manhood”. Some of the placards bore such slogans as, “Raise the age of sexual consent to 16 years”; “Stop the powerful from getting away with murder”; “We demand an effective children’s Bill”; “13-year-old belongs in school”; “National institutions have failed to protect children”; “Stop the rich and powerful from destroying our children”; “War against sexual predators”; “Protect our children, establish Family Courts”; “We demand laws to protect children from paedophiles”; and “The Parliament and political parties have failed to protect children’s rights”.
The hearing of the habeas corpus case continues on Monday afternoon.
In the meantime, Mr. Reeaz Khan, who has petitioned the Court for permission to marry the 13-year old girl pleading that “much love and affection had grown between us”, is still waiting on the Chief Justice for a date for the hearing of his petition.