PESHAWAR: A bill was moved in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday seeking to tighten registration rules for Madressahs by presenting the ‘Societies Registration Act (amendments), 2017’ for approval.
The bill, which was moved last month, was taken up again during the assembly’s session, which resumed under Speaker Asad Qaiser.
Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) lawmaker and Special Assistant to the chief minister for Ministry of Commerce and Industries Abdul Karim Khan moved the amended bill on behalf of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
However, because of amendments proposed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) lawmakers Mufti Fazal Ghafoor and Mufti Saeed Janan, the bill was sent to the select committee for review.
Section 3 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860 has now been substituted and the registrar of the societies empowered to make necessary inquiries for registration of societies, including seminaries.
It now reads: “After inquiry of documents, the registrar shall either certify or reject the application for registration and there shall be a registration fee that will be determined by the government.”
Moreover, sub-sections 3A and 3B were substituted to the bill binding all societies to maintain a proper record of accounts and expenditure while the rejected applicants were allowed to file an appeal, challenging the decision within 40 days of the rejection.
According to sub-section-3B, all societies, including seminaries, would now be required to maintain audited accounts besides requiring them to submit annual and audited reports to the registrar.
“Societies [including seminaries] will keep all moneys received into separate account in registrar’s approved bank and will also keep record of all other donations which the registrar can inspect anytime,” the bill read.
Under the amended Section 21, all seminaries must submit a memorandum of association containing information relating to the institution’s name, address, sect under which the seminary is being run, date of establishment, number of staff, bank account number, source of income, estimated annual expenditure and details of foreign students, if any.
Sub-Section 11A defines offenses and prescribes penalties for violators.
“Any person who contravenes any provision of the act shall be punishable with an imprisonment for an extendable term of six months or with a fine of Rs500,000 or both.”
The bill also restricted societies from changing or amending their office addresses unless approved by the registrar.
Similarly, all administrators of seminaries would now be required to submit an affidavit, pledging that their institutions would not provide any education or training based on militancy, terrorism, anti-state activity and sectarian hatred.
The affidavit must also contain an undertaking that the institution was not linked in any way with any banned or proscribed organisation besides promising to stay away from such organisations in future too.
The assembly’s session was later adjourned till May 10 (Wednesday).