Child marriages: Punjab Assembly amends law to enhance penalties

Published: March 6, 2015
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A file photo of a bride and groom hold hands during a marriage ceremony. PHOTO: REUTERS

A file photo of a bride and groom hold hands during a marriage ceremony. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Friday passed as many as 11 bills and amendments in the existing law, three of which deal with family laws and courts, as well as enhancing penalties on child marriages – all within an hour during the session.

Under the Punjab Marriage Restraint (amendment) Act 2015, the penalties have been enhanced for contracting a marriage with a child in order to curb child marriages while saving women from exploitation. Previously, the punishment for any person involved in child marriage was being imprisoned for up to one month or a fine of Rs1,000. This has now been enhanced to imprisonment for six months, with a fine of Rs50,000. It also proposes the same punishment for the Nikah registrar who performs the Nikah.

Read: Bachpan Bachao: Punjab lacks law against child marriage

As per the newly amended legislation on Muslim Family Laws, it will be mandatory for Nikah registrar to ensure all sections in Nikahnama are filled to avoid exploitation of the rights of a bride.

The Punjab Muslim Family Laws (amendment) Act 2015 protects women from exploitation, as well as facilitates speedy resolution of family disputes. Under the said law, union councils shall grant licenses to Nikah registrars for registration of marriages.

The Nikah registrar shall also be required to fill all entries specified in a Nikahnama, with answers specifically provided by the bride and the groom. A violation of this would result in imprisonment for up to a month, and a fine of Rs25,000. It also calls for enhancing the fine of contracting a second marriage in violation of the law, while empowering the Arbitration Council to grant maintenance to the wife and children to protect their rights.

Read: Underage, under 18: Advocates demand passage of child marriage bill

The Punjab Family Courts (amendment) Act 2015 provides enhanced powers to family courts to resolve issues, including the dissolution of marriage including khula, dowry, maintenance and the custody of children, in a speedy manner so as to protect the rights of the wife and children.

The laws were passed by the treasury benches with the opposition staging a walkout owing to legislative procedures, under which rules of procedures of the House were suspended to allow for the introduction, consideration and passage of bills the same day.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Wali
    Mar 6, 2015 - 4:38PM

    Enhanced penalty of 6 months and Rs. 50,000…. For ruining a child’s life… Doesn’t sound enhanced enough to me.Recommend

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