Bill being considered to bar media

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ISLAMABAD: A draft of ‘Pakistan Ruet-e-Hilal Bill 2017’ bill is in the works right now which will media outlets from announcing news about moon-sightings prior to the official announcement by the chairman of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee. Individuals not complying to this law will be charged with fine ranging anywhere between Rs200,000 and Rs500,000. Media houses will have to pay a much larger amount in case of any noncompliance. As disclosed by a senior official of the ministry, the draft bill is in its initial stages. With this draft bill, Ruet-e-Hilal Committee is aiming to streamline its guidelines including those related to selection criteria for its chairman, his tenure and Eid moon sighting. This bill is being drafted in response to an incident involving the Chairman of Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman who lashed out on media’s hasty coverage of the Eidul Fitr moon sighting last year. The bill is an attempt at avoiding any such incidents in future. The source also revealed that these untimely announcements are usually done by private Ruet-e-Hilal Committees that have emerged all across Pakistan. He said that right now there is no law in the country that would discourage media houses from making untimely announcements. If the law is passed, the ministry of religious affairs will be able to take action against any such individuals or media houses. Moon-sighting is a sensitive matter for Muslims and any misleading news could cause major inconvenience to them. –Agencies

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