LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has directed the Punjab government to introduce a new legislation to incorporate dowry items in Nikahnama (marriage certificate) so the miseries of women litigants seeking recovery of their dowry after marital break-up can be reduced.

“There should be a law which would state upon marriage, all things relating to marriage i.e. dowry should be duly incorporated in the columns of Nikahnama so that the miseries and obstacles of the female litigants could be curbed down in future and providing a strong and concrete social and legal set-up,” Justice Tariq Iftikhar Ahmad observed in a judgement passed on a writ petition filed by a woman. The petitioner challenged ‘miscalculation’ of dowry items by a lower court of Bahawalpur.

The judge in his verdict observed that the menace of dowry had become a social threat in modern Pakistan leading to oppression of women, physical violence against brides, causing a financial and emotional stress to the parents of the brides as well.

“This dogma should be removed and shackled with an iron hand at grassroots level and should be uprooted to maintain serene and harmony in society,” the judge says.

The judge regrets that successive governments in independent Pakistan retained most of the laws inherited from the British without amendments. “Hence, today unfortunately personal laws are different in Pakistan depending on which religion the person belongs to. For Muslim women and Christian women the rights are even less,” the judge adds.

Justice Ahmad observed that the incorporation of dowry items in the Nikahnama, if implemented, by the legislature would be more effective in eradicating the problems of dowry issues in courts as well as in society.

The judge says the brides should also be educated and well informed about negative impacts of dowry and should be taught that they can lead a better life with more independence and happiness.

The judge advises women to make bold moves towards exposing families demanding dowry using the help of the legal system saying the legal system should be made more accommodative to make the brides and their family members comfortable.

Justice Ahmad directed the law secretary to take up the matter with the quarters concerned for carrying out requisite legislation at the earliest.

The judge, however, dismissed the petition finding no illegality or irregularity in the impugned decision of the lower court regarding the evaluation of the dowry items’ value.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2017

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