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Federal Shariat Court appoints first female judge

31 December, 2013

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KARACHI: The Federal Shariat Court, which hears cases under the country's Islamic legislation, on Monday appointed a female judge for the first time in its 33-year history.

Ashraf Jehan, 56, who was serving as an additional judge at the high court in Sindh, made history as she took the oath in Karachi. "It was a historic oath-taking ceremony today when an able lady judge had joined the Shariat Court," Agha Rafiq Ahmed, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, told AFP. The court was established in 1980 during the rule of military ruler General Ziaul Haq.

It examines the country's laws to check them for conformity with Islamic injunctions and hears appeals under religious legislation known as the "Hudood Laws", which run parallel to the penal code. "There was no bar in the constitution to make a woman the judge of Shariat Court and there is no discrimination between men and women," Ahmed said. The chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, who rarely speaks to the media, said he was pleased to comment on an historic moment. "I took the initiative as it would send the message in the world that we are enlightened people and would dispel many misconceptions," he said.

Agha Rafiq administered the oath of office to Justice Ashraf Jehan at a ceremony held at the Sindh High Court. Sindh High Court Chief Justice Maqbool Bakar, judges and senior lawyers, including Sindh High Court Bar Association president, members of the Bar Council, Bar Association and deputy attorney generals attended the ceremony, said a press release.

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