The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ruled that a mother or father of a child cannot prosecute the other parent for kidnapping of their own minor children, saying that police authorities have no jurisdiction to interfere in ‘a matter purely of family nature’
The LHC ruled in favour of an appeal filed by a father charged with kidnapping by the child’s mother. A lower court had directed police to register a criminal case against Majeed Ahmed on the complaint of Shaista Bibi on charge of kidnapping the couple’s daughter.
“The police authorities have no jurisdiction to interfere with a matter purely of family nature, especially relating to the custody of minors between their parents,” Justice Ali Zia Bajwa was quoted as remarking in Dawn.
Justice Zia cited the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 which states that the father is the natural guardian of the person and property of his minor child. At the same time the judge noted that ‘hizanat’ grants the mother and female relatives of a male child until the age of seven and a female child until she reaches puberty – although the father is still required to provide maintenance support.
The judge ruled that under ‘Muhammadan Law’, a legal guardian cannot be charged with criminal kidnapping or taking away his own child.
Earlier this year, the Senate approved the Guardians and Wards (Amendment) Act 2020, which grants divorced or widowed women custody of their biological children up to age of seven for male children and 16 or the age of puberty for female children.