NA thumbs up to bill aims at ending moon sighting controversy

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly has approved a bill aims at resolving the ongoing disputes over the dates of religious events by banning private moon-sighting committees.

The bill, introduced by State Minister for Law Shahadat Awan, proposes that only the federal and district Ruet-e-Hilal committees will be authorized to operate in the country.

According to the bill, individuals running unauthorized moon-sighting committees will face a fine of Rs500,000. Additionally, those who provide false testimony about having sighted the moon may be subjected to a three-year jail term, an Rs50,000 fine, or both.

Furthermore, the bill prohibits TV channels from making moon-sighting announcements before the official announcement is made. Any channel found violating this rule will be fined Rs1 million, and their license could also be suspended.

The bill outlines the composition of the central Ruet-e-Hilal committee, which will consist of 16 members, including a chairman, two scholars from each of the four provinces, a cleric from Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Kashmir.

The committee will also include representatives from Suparco, the Meteorological Office, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

In Pakistan, moon-sighting often stirs controversy as many religious events are determined by the lunar calendar. TV channels compete to be the first to announce the sighting of the moon, which can come from various sources. The central committee frequently clashes with non-governmental committees, leading to the celebration of multiple Eids in Pakistan.

Once the bill is passed by the Senate, it will become law.


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