Lahore, Mar 7: In a bid to discourage child marriages prevalent in the country, Pakistan's Punjab province has increased the jail term to six months and fine to Rs 50,000 for people involved in the practice.
The new Act has increased punishment of imprisonment for children's parents/guardians and nikah registrar, person who solemnises a 'nikah' (marriage), from one month to six months and fine from Rs 1,000 to Rs 50,000.
An offence under the Act shall be tried summarily on a complaint of the union council or any other person prescribed by the government, according to the Act. "The Act has been enacted to curb the menace of child marriages prevalent in the country and to save the women from exploitation," Punjab Law Minister Mujtaba said.
The law has been amended in order to resolve the family disputes in a more expeditious manner, the minister said. The Punjab Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2015 has restrained child marriages, defining that a boy child will be considered under 18 years of age and a girl under 16 years of age.
The Punjab Muslim Family Laws have also been passed to supersede the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, which did not provide any mandatory provision regarding filling of all the entries in nikahnama on instructions of the bride and bridegroom.
It was observed that in numerous cases non-filling of the entries of nikahnama had adversely exploited rights of the brides, particularly, in the matter of family disputes. In order to ensure that all entries of the nikahnama shall be properly filled by the person who solemnises a nikah, it has now become mandatory provisions in the law.
The Act has also inserted enabling provisions to grant maintenance to children in case a husband contracts second marriage without following the procedure provided in section 6 of the Ordinance. The Act has empowered the Arbitration Council to specify the amount, which shall be paid by the father as maintenance of the child. Earlier, such husbands were paying a very low rate of only Rs 5,000.