LAHORE: The Punjab home department has, after receiving secret reports, asked police and administration in eight districts to proceed against illegal marriage bureaus befooling people, plundering them and misusing their personal information.

In a direction sent to divisional commissioners, RPOs and deputy commissioners, the home department has asked them to take action against such marriage bureaus in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Jhelum, Chakwal, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Faisalabad and Sargodha.

Quoting intelligence reports, the home department said many are honestly offering their services for the noble cause. But the presence of fake marriage houses and fraudsters in the guise of matchmakers have led to complaints by people demanding action from the authorities. With the advent of social media technology, presence of many matrimonial sites has aggravated the situation.

Stories of exploitation and cheating of people by these fake matchmakers have become daily business. These bureaus are privately owned and run without any government registration charging hefty fees for their claimed services.

They seldom honour their claims causing mental anguish to people besides plundering their money. There are also complaints of misuse of personal information such as pictures and national identity cards by such bureaus.

Realising the gravity of the issue, legislation for the registration of marriage houses, matchmakers and matrimonial sites may be done. Guidelines and laws may be framed with the critical input of the law department and other stakeholders. Registration of all marriage bureaus may be ensured with the industries department under Societies Registration Act 1860 or the Social Welfare Department entrusting the district government to ensure it.

In addition to this an awareness campaign may also be launched to educate the masses to seek the services of only the registered bureaus and remain careful about security of personal information.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019