The Senate Standing Committee on religious affairs in Pakistan has unanimously approved the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017, according to which eating and smoking openly during the month of Ramazan will lead to penalty and imprisonment.
Pakistan daily ‘The Express Tribune’ has reported that as per the amended bill, people who eat or smoke openly during Ramazan will invite a fine of 500 rupees and imprisonment of 3 months. The penalty for the same offence for hotel owners has been raised from 500 Rupees to 25,000 rupees. Cinema halls and TV Channels that violate the law will have to pay a fine of 5,00,000 rupees or more.
Ramazan, or Ramadan, is the holy month of the Islamic community during which Muslims abstain from food, water and vices for the entire month. People who observe fast during this month have a meal before the sunrise and break the fast after prayers at the time of sunset. They believe that during this time, the gates of heaven are open. For the year 2017, the holy month will last from May 26 to June 24.
Senator Tanveer Khan introduced the amendment in January this year. Thereafter, the bill was considered by the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs. A proposal to implement strict action against people who violate the law during the holy month of Ramazan was put forward by Tanveer Khan. Earlier, the committee was considering shutting cinema halls down three hours earlier in the morning and three hours post Iftaar during Ramazan.
However, Amin Ul Hasnat Shah, minister of state for religious affairs and inter-faith harmony, held that all the cinema halls should remain closed during the entire holy month.