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Mukhtaran Mai Gets No Relief, Again

Islamabad: Three-member bench of the Supreme Court including Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Maqbool Baqar heard the review petition against the acquittal of accused in the notorious Mukhtara Mai gang rape case on Thursday, June 13.

Mai`s lawyer, Barrister Aitezaz had barely spoken when the honorable Justice Gulzar Ahmed reiterated regarding the expediency of council`s arguments amid time constraints. As Barrister Aitezaz pleaded for time, the presiding judge remarked that substantial justice has been done while Aitezaz argued on the contrary.

Aitezaz defended his stance that he has confined himself to the salient points of Supreme Court of Pakistan`s majority judgment and the minority note of dissent. The bench did not hear Mai`s council`s technical arguments, however, acknowledged the academic significance of Barrister`s six points by declaring their incorporation in the short order and detailed judgment later on. The short order was dictated by Justice Gulzar Ahmed who had previously advised,

“Shorten the review petition or it will drag on for 10 years.”

Later on, Barrister Aietzaz emphasized that Mai`s case was neither quashed nor dismissed,

It was simply “disposed of” on the technicality that the convicted rapist(s) had already served prison sentences during the long drawn out hearings of both parties’ Appeals in the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Aitezaz Added.

The acquittal stands as per the Apex court`s previous judgment along with Justice Nasir-ul-Milk minority note of dissent.

Mukhtara Mai, who was gang-raped on orders of a ‘Panchayat’ back in June 2002 has been in and out of the courts for the last seventeen years. In May 2011, Mai`s review petition argued that the court should review and recall the judgment and grant relief as prayed in the appeal. She was of the view that the court should constitute a larger bench as she was dissatisfied with the findings of the court.

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Tahira Abdullah, a human rights activist and co-petitioner in Mai`s appeal comments upon the latest dismissal regarding acquittal of accused.

”A brave survivor of an illegal public Panchayat/Jirga-imposed gang-rape has failed to obtain Justice through a clearly-enunciated unambiguous judgment of the highest court in the land even after 17 years of constant struggle against daunting odds”

Abdullah raised an important question that how come after seventy-two years of Independence, Pakistan`s top court is yet to have a female member on the bench.

The vast majority of men in Power and Authority (with a handful of notable exceptions) are but a reflection of the Patriarchy and Misogyny so rampant in our traditional social and cultural fabric., Abdullah Added. 

Abdullah expressed her disregard towards the latest dismissal, she was worrisome and agonized about the precedent set by the apex court.

The deafening silence that our Icon, our Hero, Ms. Mukhtar Bibi so bravely broke in 2002, will now be self-imposed all over again. Today we have regressed 200 years. It will take several generations of brave women to speak up, to break out, and to break free.

Abdullah appreciates and acknowledges the efforts of Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan and his team in fighting for Mai and leaving no stone unturned to do so. She prays for Mai`s safety who runs a school in her village Meerwala, Tehsil Jatoi, District Muzaffargarh. The same school which admitted Mai`s rapist children back in the day when there was no public school in the area.

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