Punjab cabinet amends rules under Muslim Family Laws

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Following the approval, civil society and legal fraternity questioned the intentions of the Punjab government and slammed it saying there was no need for such an amendment…reports Asian Lite News

Punjab cabinet on Tuesday approved an amendment to the West Pakistan Rules under Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 where it included a clause wherein couples intending to get married would have to take an oath to testify their belief in the finality of Prophethood (PBUH) at the time of nikah.

Following the approval, civil society and legal fraternity questioned the intentions of the Punjab government and slammed it saying there was no need for such an amendment and the laws were sufficient. According to Dawn, it appears to be a bid to win over the right-wing vote bank.

They said that the law and Constitution already contain relevant provisions and clauses about faith and the changes were unnecessary.

Lawyer Asad Jamal said that the amendments were legally wrong as Muslim Family Laws were not a provincial subject. “They should rather propose any change to the Centre and justify that the nation will collapse if such a move is not made. Is religion under some special threat in Punjab? The right-wing movement is indeed strong in the Punjab Assembly, and may not even face resistance because people will be scared to talk about it,” he said.

He asked whether the Punjab cabinet thought that some people were lying about their faith. “Such legislation is usually done in mischief unless there is evidence to support the need for it. It’s like the blasphemy law was amended in the 1980s without evidence that the Muslim faith was under any threat,” he added.

The senior lawyer mentioned that such declarations were already required for identity documents like ID card and passport and the present laws are sufficient. “aren’t the present laws and Constitution enough? What safety could such proposals ensure? This is just playing politics on religion and religious sentiments”, Jamal remarked.

Lawyer and women’s rights activist Nighat Dad echoed Mr Jamal’s views and said, “The identity documents for every citizen of Pakistan already require such an oath and when a person isn’t assuming a public office, why would this be required? Religion or belief is a personal choice anyway, so why take an oath to declare it before marriage or anything for that matter?”

“The nikahnama contains all the relevant clauses already, so this appears unnecessary,” she added. (ANI)

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