Bill to end moon-sighting controversies tabled in NA

Published January 12, 2022
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan speaks during the National Assembly session on Tuesday. — Photo via NA of Pakistan Twitter
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan speaks during the National Assembly session on Tuesday. — Photo via NA of Pakistan Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday introduced five bills in the National Assembly, including the one seeking to regulate the system of moon-sighting and empowering the ruet hilal committee in an effort to end the seasonal controversies over sighting of the crescent.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan introduced the Pakistan Ruet Hilal Bill 2021 on behalf of the federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri.

The proposed law suggests formation of a Federal Ruet Hilal Committee, besides constitution of committees in the federal capital, provinces and districts having representation of recognised Ulema and scholars from all sects and schools of thought. All these committees will be nominated for a three-year term.

The bill authorises only the chairperson of the federal committee or his nominee to make an announcement regarding the sighting of the moon. The bill proposes a fine of up to Rs500,000 for anyone violating the law.

The proposed law also empowers the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to cancel the licence or impose a fine of up to Rs1 million on television channels if they make any announcement regarding sighting of the moon before the official announcement by the federal committee.

Similarly, the bill suggests imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs50,000 or both for a person making a false evidence of moon sighting. The bill makes it binding on courts to decide matters related to the law within 60 days.

The federal committee, according to the bill, will comprise 16 members, including the chairperson. The federal committee will consist of two Ulema from each province and Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir; a grade-20 officer from Met Office, a science and technology expert and a representative of the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and an officer of the level of director general from the Ruet Hilal Affairs division of the ministry, who will act as the secretary of the committee.

The bill has suggested complete ban on any other committee formed by individuals under any name for sighting of the moon for commencement of each Islamic Hijri calendar month.

Other bills introduced by the government in the assembly are the Islamabad Healthcare Regulation Bill 2021; the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance (amendment) Bill 2021, the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the Pakistan Petroleum Upstream Regulatory Authority Bill 2021.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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