People running eateries who think it is fine to serve people food indoors during fasting hours need to rethink their business strategy, or face the ire of the law.
Two such eateries in the capital’s posh in sector F-6 sector were recently raided by the police and warned of “strict action” if they violate the Ehtiraam-e-Ramazan Ordinance again.
Assistant Commissioner (AC) City Muhamad Ali said they raided Mocca Coffee and Gloria Jeans café in Kohsar Market and found the two eateries serving lunch to people, including foreigners.
He said the two eateries were told to shut down in observance of the ordinance and warned of action if they continue to violate the law.
The AC said the ordinance empowers an executive magistrate to take a suo motu action against those who violate the ordinance and hold a summary trial at the spot. He added that if implicated, violators are liable to three years imprisonment or a fine of Rs500, or both.
While the police did not disclose what prompted them to conduct the raid, an official of the city administration told The Express Tribune that the action was taken on the complaint of a woman against Street 1 Cafe, which is another restaurant in the same market, for serving lunch to people during Ramazan.
However, the official said the restaurant was closed at the time of the raid.
Foreigners not targeted, but not off the hook
One of the customers at Mocca Coffee who witnessed the episode said that the raiding party discriminated against the locals.
An official of the administration said, “At this point we don’t want to be too strict on foreigners and non-Muslims; however, they are not specifically exempted under the law either.”
What the law states
Ehtiram-e-Ramazan Ordinance was passed in 1981 under the rule of former military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq and has since been in effect without amendments.
The law states that “no person who according to the tenets of Islam is under obligation to fast shall eat, drink or smoke in a public place during fasting hours in the month of Ramazan”.
The law identifies public places as “any hotel, restaurant, canteen, house, room, tent, enclosures, road lane, bridge or other place to which the public have access”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.