LAHORE: Police are being allowed in Punjab to directly raid wedding ceremonies to take cognisance of violation of the allowed one-dish meals and holding of the functions beyond the permitted time of 10pm, also enhancing fine up to Rs2 million.
The stringent measures are being taken through a new law, replacing the Marriage Functions (Prohibition of Ostentatious Displays and Wasteful Expenses) Ordinance 2000, Dawn learnt on Thursday.
This federal law originally prohibited serving of meals in wedding parties. But later the government had allowed one-dish meals.
Sources said that the Punjab government was introducing the new law as the subject had been transferred to it under the 18th Amendment, making offences under it cognisable meaning thereby that police would directly “raid” wedding parties to check any violations under it.
The violations may also include extravagance, fireworks and illuminations.
Offences under the original law are non-cognisable. It provides that no court can take cognisance of an offence under it “except on a complaint in writing by an officer or agency appointed by the federal or a provincial government.”
Violation to be cognisable offence
The law provides for simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine not less than Rs100,000 and not more than Rs500,000, or with both.
The functions include all ceremonies, preceding and succeeding the formal wedding whether religious or civil rituals such as nikah, rukhsati, walima, mehndi, rasm-i-hina, other functions and celebrations connected with marriage and related festivities.
Sources said that authorities were also discussing how to prevent high-handedness of police during actions under the law. It was being considered to make it compulsory for police to take along local notables or designated officials of other government departments during the raids so that they (police) could refrain from unduly harassing people.
“Certainly police `invasion’ is bound to create mass unrest. Yes, the proposed law is harsh,” remarked an official.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015