The National Assembly (NA) of Pakistan recently passed ‘The Pakistan Ruet-e-Hilal Bill 2022’ to streamline the process of moon sighting in the country. Reporting fake moon sightings will now incur hefty fines and possible jail time. This bill prohibits private committees from operating and making announcements about the new moon before an official declaration.
The bill was presented to the lower house of parliament by Shahadat Awan, Minister of State for Law and Justice. It must now be approved by the Senate before becoming law.
According to the bill, only federal, provincial, and district committees are allowed to operate for moon sighting purposes. The goal is to address the controversy that arises every year before religious festivals. The current system was established in 1974 based on a resolution passed by the NA.
Under the new bill, only the chairperson of the Federal Ruet-i-Hilal Committee or an authorized member can make an official announcement about moon sighting. Violators of the bill’s provisions, such as establishing private moon sighting bodies or making announcements, may face fines of up to Rs. 500,000.
Additionally, electronic media that broadcasts news about moon sighting before an official announcement may be fined up to Rs. 1 million or have their licenses suspended by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. Giving false evidence about moon sightings can result in imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.
The bill also establishes Ruet-i-Hilal committees at various levels including federal, provincial, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The federal committee will include a chairperson, two Ulema from each province, one cleric from Islamabad, GB, and AJK, and technical members from various organizations.
The chairperson of the federal committee will be appointed on a rotational basis and the term for all committees will be three years. Meetings will be held in provincial headquarters and Islamabad on a rotational basis.