The 13-year-old
Reeaz Khan moves against judge's order
Stabroek News
June 24, 2004

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A new twist has developed in the saga involving the 13-year-old and Reeaz Khan, after the businessman filed a notice of motion seeking to repeal the order by Justice BS Roy to place the girl at the New Opportunity Corps.

In the notice of motion, Khan names Attorney-General Doodnauth Singh as the respondent.

According to the affidavit in support of the notice of motion, Khan assumes the capacity of 'next friend' or guardian of the child, and says that the child's mother placed her in his custody on March 28.

Khan also seeks declarations that the authority vested in the judge as upper guardian of the child under section 21 of Infancy Act Chapter 46:01 be exercised subject to the child's fundamental rights as guaranteed under articles 139, 141, 147 and 148. And further, that the child is entitled to redress from the state for the alleged contravention of her constitutional rights by the judicial arm of the state as well as costs and such further or other order that may be deemed just.

Other claims contained in Khan's affidavit purport that the child had informed him "...that [her] mother and all maternal relatives are opposed to [her]...that she does not know the whereabouts of her father. In the circumstances [the child] has asked [Khan] to be her next friend in the institution of these proceedings..."

Khan's affidavit further states "...I have been informed by the [child's] attorney-at-law Ms. Carol Martindale-Howard and verily believe that the orders made by Justice BS Roy on June 11, 2004, were made without her consent and without being given an opportunity to be heard and represented by counsel...I [Khan] have also been advised by Senior Counsel Rex H. McKay and do verily believe that the learned judge acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when he directed that the applicant be detained at the New Opportunity Corps without her consent and without her attorney-at-law being allowed to make legal representations on her behalf...I have also been advised by said Senior Counsel that the failure of Justice BS Roy to give the applicant an opportunity to be heard or to allow her to be represented by counsel is a contravention of her fundamental rights for which she is entitled to redress."

Khan's action comes on the heels of a notice of motion filed by AG Singh, in his personal capacity, seeking declarations of the unconstitutionality of the judge's order and contravention of the child's rights.

But Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards dismissed the AG's motion on Monday after hearing arguments by the AG and lead counsel for the team of attorneys representing the child's mother, Nigel Hughes, on the basis that AG Singh had no locus standi in the original matter and his action was "misconceived."

Two Fridays ago, Justice Roy ordered that the child be placed in "protective custody" at the NOC and that she receive professional counselling during that period. Social Worker/Counsellor Lisa Thompson had, at the court's request, undertaken to counsel the child and submit a report based on her assessment tomorrow.

Stabroek News had learnt that a cellular phone had been discovered on the child while she had been in "protective custody" under the care of the police despite a prior search on her person at the High Court.

The cellular phone, this newspaper had been told, had been taken from her. She has also been ordered to refrain from all form of contact with Khan who is currently facing the criminal charge of "abduction of an unmarried girl under the age of 16 years..." filed privately by the child's mother.

Additionally, Khan, also responsible for filing a petition seeking to marry the child, is facing contempt of court charges for allegedly flouting Justice Roy's order to stay away from the child.

The case has sparked widespread criticism by individuals and rights' activists who are now calling for the legal age of consent to sexual activity to be raised from 13 to 18 years.