The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday reserved its judgement on the appeals filed by a judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar, who were jailed for torturing their minor maid Tayyaba employed as domestic help in Islamabad.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam was hearing the case.
The court was informed by the Islamabad advocate general that as per the statement of neighbours, the convicts had burnt Tayyaba’s hand after a broom went missing and the statement was verified by the child maid’s own testimony.
It was added that soon after the pictures of Tayyaba’s bruised and tortured face went viral on social media, her employers claimed that she had disappeared and reported her missing; however, the child was recovered from the couple’s house later.
The Islamabad advocate general further added that the child maid had stated that her hand was burnt using a ladle and she was later tied to a water tank by her employers. “The convicts also used to threaten Tayyaba that the “police would beat her” if she revealed the torture to anyone,” he added.
Quoting the findings of a medical board, the counsel said at least 22 bruises on the child’s body were found to be old while three injuries were fresh.
Justice Yahya Afridi inquired why no complaint was filed against Tayyaba’s father, who he observed had left his daughter at the mercy of strangers for two years. At this, the additional advocate general informed the bench that although the father merited a case of abetment to be registered against him, he was nowhere to be found when the episode had unfolded.
In June 2018, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had increased the sentence of a suspended judge and his wife, taking their total jail term to three years in addition to slapping them with a Rs500,000 fine.
The accused had challenged their one-year prison sentences and fines imposed on them by the high court after being convicted of torturing their juvenile maid.
“There can be no compensation in monetary terms for the anguish suffered by the victim, an innocent, helpless and vulnerable child, but we feel that an amount of Rs0.5 million may be a reasonable symbolic payment as ‘daman’ to Tayyaba Bibi as compensation for the agony which she had to suffer,” the written order issued by the high court stated.
“We, therefore, uphold the conviction of Raja Khurram Ali Khan and Maheen Zafar under section 328 A and enhance the sentence to simple imprisonment of three years each along with payment of fine of Rs0.5 million.”
On December 29, 2016, Tayyaba, then a 10-year-old, was recovered from the house of the judge after receiving complaints of torture from neighbours. The issue sparked outrage on social media and led to calls for strict and swift justice.
The child was kept in confinement, her hand was burnt over a missing broom, she was beaten with a ladle, detained in a storeroom, and threatened of “dire consequences” including being beaten up by the police if she told anyone of Raja Khurram Ali Khan and Maheen Zafar’s abuse.