PESHAWAR: The members of the working group constituted by the Child Protection and Welfare Commission to review the proposed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2016 have decided to discuss the draft-bill with lawmakers of religious parties before tabling it in the assembly. Child Protection and Welfare Commission deputy chief Ijaz Muhammad Khan told The News that the members of the working group had decided at a meeting that consensus would be evolved before getting the bill passed.
He said the draft-bill would be discussed with the members of the provincial assembly, particularly those belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl. Ijaz Muhammad Khan said the Social Welfare Department and Child Protection and Welfare Commission would call meetings of the parliamentary leaders of various political parties so that they could be briefed. He said the draft bill would be moved in the provincial assembly after developing consensus.
The commission deputy chief said that the members of the working group had suggested that 18 years should be the minimum age for marriage for a boy and girl. “If the age (16 years) is maintained unchanged as in the Act of 1929, the production of birth certificate or form “B” must be compulsory at the time of nikah,” a member suggested at the meeting. He said some of the members objected that minimum age for a female, which was 16 years was not Islamic, however, others insisted on production of only form “B” at the time of nikah. Ijaz Muhammad Khan said that the bill was earlier submitted to the Law Department, however the officials there advised to review the draft regarding the age, court jurisdiction, form B and birth registration.
The meeting proposed that the bill must be presented in Standing Committee for Law and Parliamentary Affairs so that hurdles could be removed. Ijaz Muhammad Khan said that the current act was introduced by Quai-d-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1929 in the legislative assembly of India under British rule and only one month imprisonment and Rs1,000 fine was imposed as punishment for child marriage. According to the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, minimum age for a boy is 18 years while for girl minimum age was 16 years and the crime was not cognizable.
He said that in the proposed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2016, it was stated after promulgation of the Act, it shall be obligatory upon the nikah registrar to check the computerised national identity cards (CNICs) of both the parties to the marriage and also attach copies with the nikah form. About the punishment, it was proposed that whoever being adult person, above 18 years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to three years but shall not be less than two years and shall also be liable to fine that may extend to Rs45,000.It was also proposed that whoever performs, conducts, directs, brings about or in any way facilitates any child marriage shall be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to three years but shall not be less than two years and shall also be liable to a fine which may extend to Rs45,000, unless he proved that he had reason to believe that the marriage was not of a child. He said the Sindh Assembly had passed a law on child marriages, which suggested the minimum age as 18 years for both male and female.Ijaz Muhammad Khan said that the act in Sindh had proposed rigorous imprisonment while in the draft-bill of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the punishment had been proposed as simple imprisonment. The representative of the Human Rights Department proposed that the imprisonment must be rigorous.