Web DeskPublished: 1 June 2023 at 11:48 | Updated: 1 June 2023 at 11:48
National Assembly Passes Bill to Regulate Moon-sighting Mechanism
The National Assembly has passed the Pakistan Ruet-e-Hilal Bill, 2022, aimed at regulating the process of moon-sighting for the commencement of Islamic months. The bill holds unofficial bodies accountable for their involvement in this activity and establishes penalties for violations.
The bill's objective is to ensure a harmonized system of moon-sighting across the country, allowing followers of various schools of thought in Islam to observe their religious obligations collectively. It restricts all non-official committees, entities, or organizations from engaging in moon-sighting activities.
The bill specifies that only the federal, provincial, and district committees for moon-sighting shall operate in Pakistan, with a term of three years for Ruet-e-Hilal committees. The chairperson of the Central Ruete-Hilal committee, appointed on a rotation basis, will convene meetings on the 29th day of each month or as directed.
The committee is permitted to co-opt individuals or invite experts to provide advice during meetings; however, these members do not possess voting rights. The committee's composition includes the chairperson, two clerics from each province, representatives from Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, as well as technical members from the Meteorological Office, Suparco, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
According to the new law, the ruet committees will only accept evidence of moon sighting in accordance with Shariah, provided that such evidence is submitted to the central committee through the respective provincial committees.
Violators of the regulations may face fines of up to 500,000 Pakistani Rupees. Additionally, electronic media outlets that broadcast news of moon-sighting before the official announcement, as defined in section 15, may be fined up to 1 million Pakistani Rupees or have their licenses suspended by PEMRA, or both.
Anyone found providing false evidence regarding moon-sighting may be subject to imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to 50,000 Pakistani Rupees, or both, as stated in the bill.
The bill aims to bring uniformity and authenticity to the process of moon-sighting in Pakistan, ensuring adherence to Islamic principles while preventing false or premature announcements.