The Punjab Government made eight amendments to the nikahnama Law on Thursday.
A circular was issued by the Local Government and Community Development Department and sent to all DCOs in Punjab, describing the Punjab specific amendments. The new amendments make it necessary for both the bride and bridegroom to undergo a blood test, which is made compulsory to prevent disabled and handicapped births.
The amendments also make it mandatory for parents/guardians of both bride and bridegroom to sign the nikahnama document as witnesses. Mention of the bride and bridegroom's date-of-birth has also been declared binding.
The amendements in the circular are as follows:
- Additional columns and space shall be provided for dowry articles in the nikahnama
- In addition to the names of fathers of both the bride and bridegroom, the names of mothers of both the bride and bridegroom shall be recorded with their CNIC numbers and dates of births.
- Father and mother of the bride and bridegroom shall sign in the witness to the marriage column.
- Marks of identification of both the bride and bridegroom shall be incorporated in the nikahnama.
- Medical check up and report of the bride and bridegroom shall be mandatory to obviate any problem in their matrimonial life and subsequently any chance of having abnormal children. Blood groups of the bride and the bridegroom shall be entered in the marriage certificate.
- The name of the bride usually changes after the marriage is solemnized which then appears in future documents of the new family. Such a projected change shall be recorded in the certificate.
- Instead of mentioning only the age of the bride and bridegroom, their exact dates of birth shall be recorded as in their school certificates/CNIC/Passports.
- The latest passport size photos of the bride and bridegroom shall be pasted on the certificate.
The handout says the amendments are effective as of today (Thursday) and no nikah document will be registered without fulfilling these requirements.
According to a report, PPP MNA Sherry Rehman criticized the amendments and said that they would strengthen the organisers of forced marriages.
According to the Law Minister, Rana Sanaullah, the Peshawar High Court had asked the Ministry for Religious Affairs to include the eight clauses in the nikahnama, “therefore we’ve done it”. The leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Zaheerud Din stated that the Punjab government was not bound to adopt the customary laws of any other province.
However, an official of the Local Government and Community Development Department told The Express Tribune that the revisions were made on the suggestion of the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Muhammad Khalid Masud.
The official said that a notification to this effect was issued on July 6. According to him, the bridegroom’s and bride’s medical fitness certificates must be attached with the nikahnamas, which mention their blood groups.
Other requirements include the precise dates of birth of the bridegroom and bride, their identification marks – if any, two latest passport-size pictures, the names of the parents of both the bride and bridegroom along with their dates of birth and details of the dowry.
The official said that before the 18th Amendment was passed, the nikahnama and divorce forms were federal subjects.
Now they had come under the jurisdiction of the provincial governments. According to the official, the CII chairman had suggested the revisions – particularly the medical fitness certificates – “in order to avoid any unsavoury situation after the marriage.” The chairman’s suggestions had been ignored after some CII members opposed them.
The exact time when the revised nikahnamas will replace the current forms is not yet clear, said the official.