Thursday, June 01, 2023
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Wednesday passed a bill to regulate the mechanism of moon-sighting for the commencement of Islamic months, making unofficial bodies liable for penal action.
State Minister for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan presented the Pakistan Ruet-e-Hilal Bill, 2022 in the absence of the religious affairs minister.
“In order to regulate the system of moon-sighting for the purpose of commencement of Islamic Hijri calendar months and consequently to bring harmony amongst followers of various schools of thought of Islam to perform their religious obligations with unanimity throughout the country,” read the bill, a copy of which is available on the NA website.
It barred all the other unofficial bodies and individuals from indulging in this activity.
“No committee, entity or organisation by whatever name called, other than the federal, provincial and district committees for sighting the moon shall operate in all over Pakistan or any part thereof,” the bill stated, adding the term of Ruet-e-Hilal committees shall be three years.
The meeting of the Central Ruete-Hilal committee shall be convened by its chairperson on the 29th day of each month or at any time on his own or as directed by the division concerned.
The committee may co-opt any person or invite any expert to attend its meetings or deliberations, to advise it on any matter under discussion, however, such co-opted or invited member shall have no right to vote.
The chairperson of the central moon-sighting committee shall be appointed on a rotation basis from the provinces and the federal capital. The body will comprise the chairperson, two clerics from each province and one each from Islamabad, GB and AJK, while technical members in the committee will be one officer each from the Met Office, Suparco and the religious affairs ministry.
Under the new law, the ruet committees shall accept evidence regarding moon sighting only in accordance with Shariah, provided that the evidence of moon sightings is sent to the central committee through the provincial committees.
The violators will be punished with a fine up to 500,000 while electronic media that broadcast the news of the moon-sighting before the official announcement of moon-sighting under section 15 shall be liable to punishment of a fine up to Rs1 million or suspension of their licences by the PEMRA or with both.
“Any person or persons who give false evidence regarding moon sighting shall be liable to the punishment of imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine upto Rs50,000 or with both.”