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Karachi

July 17, 2017

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Draft of first-ever bill to regulate madrasas sent to Nacta for approval

Draft of first-ever bill to regulate madrasas sent to Nacta for approval

The draft of the first-ever Sindh Deeni Madaris Act has been forwarded to the country’s top counterterrorism authority for approval, Addl IGP Sanaullah Abbasi told The News on Sunday.

Counter Terrorism Department Sindh chief Abbasi, who also holds a PhD in law, said the bill had been sent to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and other stakeholders for their feedback and consequent consensus.

Abbasi said that after taking the lead on drafting a bill to protect witnesses, the Sindh government was also the first administration in the country to draw up a bill to regulate religious seminaries.

He said a conference on extremism was being convened to overcome the issue of radicalisation at educational institutions, adding that Karachi was presently faring better than other cities in the context of terrorism.

“However, we are talking of future threats of terrorism, more so in the context of the youth, with terrorists focusing on the new generation, and the random cases of radicalisation are indicative of future threats.”

Abbasi said the proposed legislation was aimed at creating a formal mechanism for registering, regulating and facilitating religious seminaries in the province, adding that it was essential that all citizens be treated in accordance with the law as provided in Article 4 of the constitution and that there was an urgent need to recognise the system of Islamic education in Sindh.

Moreover, he said, it was also essential to draw up a legal framework for madrasas and have a formal mechanism for registering, regulating and facilitating them. The title of the proposed law is the Sindh Deeni Madaris Act 2016 and it would extend to the whole of the province of Sindh and come into force at once.

Madrasa registration

According to the proposed law, all madrasas operating in the province or any new seminary proposed to be established shall be required to obtain a registration certificate to be issued by the divisional registrar.

Even if madrasas are already registered under any other law, they will have to obtain the registration certificate under the act within a period of six months of its coming into existence.

The applicant shall submit the registration form filled with all the required details as well as the following documents to the divisional registrar: a no-objection certificate (NOC) issued by the deputy commissioner, an NOC issued by the superintendent of police and an approved building plan issued by the Sindh Building Control Authority.

Also needed would be a certificate issued by the religious affairs department showing the faculty of the madrasa has the required expertise to impart religious education.

After ascertaining that all the required information has been provided, the divisional registrar would issue the registration certificate within 30 days of receiving the application.  

Validity and renewal

The registration certificate issued under the act shall be valid for a period of two years from the date of its issuance, and all madrasas registered under the act shall obtain a renewal of the registration from the divisional registrar.

The renewal form shall be submitted to the divisional registrar at least two months before the validity period of the registration is to expire, and it should be accompanied by audited accounts of the seminary, details of foreign funding, if any, details of foreign students, along with a certificate that the foreign student possess a valid visa and permission to study, and a declaration that all the requirements of the act have been complied with.  

Cancellation

If it is found that a madrasa has given incorrect details in the form, or if a madrasa established before the commencement of the act does not get registered within six months of the commencement of the act, or it has violated any provision of the act or any other law, the divisional registrar shall have the power to cancel its registration and/or take control of its administration. Moreover, the registration shall not be cancelled without affording any opportunity of hearing to the madrasa administration.

No madrasa shall be closed or sealed until the opportunity of hearing is provided. However, in case the violation is such that there is an imminent threat of breach of peace or any other threat to society, the divisional registrar or the government shall have the power to seal the madrasa immediately, without any opportunity of hearing.

Funding

Within a year of the coming into effect of the act, the government shall establish a fund by the name of Sindh Madrasa Education Fund, which shall be used by the government for facilitating and supporting the imparting of education in religious seminaries under the act.

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