Monday, August 30, 2010

One Dish, One Rule for Everyone!

One Dish, One Rule for Everyone!

On-Air: Thursday, January 29, 2009 {7PM, 3AM, 12PM (PST)}

What to make of a law that aspires to break free from senseless spending and pretentious extravagances under societal pressures? One would think it would be extremely popular with the masses. Why then is the law of one-dish at weddings met with so many petitions filed in high courts and supreme courts against it? Agreed the “Marriage Functions (prohibition of Ostentatious and Wasteful Expenses) Ordinance implemented in 1997 was slightly rigid in restricting wedding functions to only hot/cold drinks and insensible in dictating the number of guests allowed at weddings (not to exceed 300). However, the law, re-implemented in 2008 in Punjab (with the return of the Sharif brothers) and still unobserved in other provinces, has become much more flexible. {The Marriage Functions (Prohibition of Ostentatious and Wasteful Expenses) Ordinance 2000 under which the Punjab government is allowing only one-dish at wedding parties (one dish includes “one curry/salan, with rice and bread/roti and one sweet dish”)}. Today when Pakistan is experiencing an economic meltdown coupled with increasing global food costs (150% price hike of rice in the past year, shortage of flour etc.) this law has come as a blessing in disguise for middle and lower class Pakistanis. One might argue why the need of such desperate measures in a country where Eid and weddings are the only two times of rejoicing, the latter being grand, ostentatious, and lavish cultural events. However, one must understand the societal pressures and expectations which drive the poor to bury themselves under debt just to please and appease relatives and in laws. Weddings are a matter of prestige in our part of the world, cutting across class spectrum in this largely impoverished country of 160 million people, where the World Bank estimates per capita income is $800 a year. In the wake of this law how are caterers, poultry farm owners and marriage hall owners faring? People come up with newer ways everyday to serve lavish wedding dinners, whether by calling guests at home after the functions, having friends ‘host’ dinners, labeling it ‘aqeeqa’ or ‘birthdays’ etc. Information Secretary Nayyar Mahmood said the government will rely on anyone from police to snoopy neighbors to report violators, who risk fines of 100,000 to 300,000 rupees ($1,430 to $4,285) and confiscation of the food. The implementation of this law is questionable to date, including the actions and scope of the police - whereas the police are not allowed to raid private properties they are nonetheless suspended if authorities find out the law was breached (two SHOs were suspended on 23rd of December 2008 from service for not enforcing the ban on lavish wedding parties in Lahore).

I spoke to a representative of PML (N) - the party which introduced and re-implemented this law, a caterer, a marriage hall owner, DCO Lahore, and a religious scholar. The Islamic scholar put it beautifully, in that Islam preaches never going to the extent where one feels weighed down or compromised.  


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Hiding a prior divorce from husband also amounts to cheating: Gujarat high court

Hiding a prior divorce from husband also amounts to cheating: Gujarat high court

The Gujarat high court recently gave two significant judgements in cases lodged by an NRI couple after their divorce. Justice Akil Kureshi of the high court ruled that if a woman conceals her previous marital status (including a marriage that had ended in a divorce), it amounted to cheating. In such a case, the husband can file a police complaint against his wife, the court said.

The judge also held that a woman can file a criminal complaint against her husband if he does not return her belongings after their marriage had ended in a divorce in a foreign country.

According to the case details, Mitesh and Tanya, who are currently citizens of the US, originally hail from Kheda district. They had got married with the consent of their respective families but their marriage soon ran into trouble and they divorced in the US in 2007. But the bad blood between the two did not end there.

Tanya filed a complaint in Nadiad under the dowry act among others, alleging that Mitesh had not returned her belongings which amounted to Rs20-Rs 25 lakh. These were given to her by her father at the time of the marriage but they were still with Mitesh's family, Tanya claimed. She demanded that Mitesh and his family return her belongings as she had divorced Mitesh in the US.

Mitesh had also filed a complaint at the same police station alleging that Tanya had cheated him as she had not disclosed the fact that prior to their marriage she was married to another boy and had divorced him too.

In his judgement, Justice Kureshi gave the green signal for filing of a police complaint against Tanya for not disclosing to Mitesh the details of her previous marriage and divorce. But the court turned down Mitesh's plea that Tanya's police complaint against him and his family for not returning her belongings be quashed.

The court also refused to entertain Tanya's argument that even if Mitesh's allegation was accepted as true, it did not constitute an offence as her previous marriage had been annulled by the competent court in the US.

On the other hand, Mitesh in his complaint had argued that Tanya had concealed details of her previous marriage even in the marriage form. This amounted to cheating and forgery, he said.

"Tanya had made a false declaration saying that she was unmarried, after which he had agreed to marry her," Mitesh declared in his complaint.

In her complaint demanding the return of her belongings, Tanya stated Mitesh and his family had not returned what belonged to her. As per the terms of their divorce settlement, the two parties were supposed to return each other's property, she stated, adding that Mitesh was now saying that he and his family did not have any of Tanya's belongings.