Crescent controversy: Bill seeking ban on private moon committees ready

Published: August 6, 2017
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PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

PESHAWAR: A draft of the ‘Prohibition of Private Moon Sighting Committee Bill, 2017’ has been submitted in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly’s Secretariat with an aim to end the moon-sighting controversy in the country.

The draft bill endorses ban on any private moon-sighting committees in K-P as the country remains divided over commencing the holy month of Ramazan and celebrating Eid on the same day.

The proposed bill mainly aims to tackle the Peshawar’s Masjid Qasim Ali Khan committee, led by Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai, which has a history of announcing Eid and start of Ramazan a day ahead of the rest of the country.

The draft bill – submitted by MPA Sobia Shahid in the assembly’s secretariat – is expected to be tabled in the next session.

Reporting moon-sighting before Ruet-e-Hilal committee could cost you up to Rs500,000

“The moon-sighting committee should be banned and people should follow the announcements of Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee,” objectives of the proposed law read.

Clause-1 of the draft bill states that no person, either individually or collectively, would establish or assist in holding a meeting of the private moon-sighting committee to observe Ramazan or celebrate Eid.

“Any person who contravenes [holds private moon-sighting meeting] will be punished with imprisonment of a maximum of six months and a fine not exceeding Rs500,000,” recommends the bill, adding that those who intentionally abet, engage or assist any person in holding such a meeting would also be liable to the same punishment.

About filing complaints against meetings of private moon-sighting committee, the draft bill suggests that any person or police officer having information about such a meeting could file a complaint in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, MPA Sobia said, “The bill aims to build consensus on observing religious rituals on the same day in the country.”

She was hopeful that the assembly would pass the bill after a debate as it was aimed at uniting citizens across the country.

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