Supreme Court lifts ban


Nov 25 - Dec 01, 2002

The decision of the Supreme Court of lifting ban on Valima dinners has not only brought back life and the colours to the wedding ceremonies but has helped revival of a variety of economic activity in the cottage industries. By putting a ban on serving meals during wedding ceremonies, the government in 1997 had made an effort to bring social reforms in the society through administrative means without realizing the devastating economic effects at the micro level.

Though the decision imposed through an Ordinance on serving meals in the wedding ceremonies had no malign intention of the policy makers, but one should always be wary of the consequences of the bad laws also. Change of pattern of the deep rooted tradition can only be reformed when the leaders present themselves as a role model by setting examples of modesty and simplicity in their own lives.

The ban on serving meals on one hand given relief to the poor, but played havoc with the economy on the other hand which ultimately deprived the poor of their daily living and job opportunities at a massive scale.

In fact the purpose of the ban was to discourage on the wasteful expenses in the marriage ceremonies especially by the well off of the society which also creates a sense of deprivation among the less fortunate in the society. However, it was a matter of ethics and morals of the people which should have been addressed through social reforms and not by administrative means. The chain effects of the decision of putting a ban on serving meals during marriage ceremonies had badly affected the money circulation among different hands which is the basis for making the economy vibrant. It may be mentioned that majority of the women folk and the children used to attend the marriage ceremonies where after spending 4-6 hours, the guests were served with merely cold drinks to the empty stomach guests. Instead of enjoying the occasion of the ceremony, most of the guests coming from far off places had to take it as a boring or an occasion of punishment because they had to take their meal late night when get back to their homes.

Except the close family members rest of the invitees especially women and children were avoiding attending the marriage ceremonies which consequently adversely affected a large number of petty businesses like flowers and bouquets, tailors, cosmetics, bangles and a large number of gift items. Apart from these petty businesses, relatively bigger sectors of the economy which constitute an integral part of the normal marriage ceremonies were crippled down. Among them were the marriage halls and gardens, decoration services, catering services and large number of affiliated businesses like rice, meat, chicken and the accessories used in the cooking. Although the impact of the ban was indivisible in nature, yet it had really slowed down the pace of business activity at a much larger scale.

Since every law has a loop hole as generally said, people in order to serve food to their guests had found various ways to serve food to the guests under different pretexts. For example, the invitation cards for wedding ceremony were usually accompanied by another invitation card for "Aaqeeqa" ceremony and the food was served on account of Aquinas. In the early days when the ban was imposed, there was a provision to get permission for serving food in Aaqeeqa ceremony from a government department. This opened doors for corruption as the people had to please the staff responsible for issuing permission letters. The ban also proved a windfall for the police who used to monitor the wedding ceremonies to check the wedding dinners. However, the monitors were least bothered if they were also made happy by the organizers. Does such law make any sense which instead of facilitating opens doors of corruption? Hopefully, the governments in future would think twice before making any such decisions which are good for nothing and the society had to pay the price.

It is strongly believed by a large segment of the economy that the Supreme Court's decision to lift ban on serving meals in wedding ceremonies is set to revive the business fortunes of a large segments of the economy. Although these segments create business activity comparatively at micro level yet these sectors are the most active factors to create economic activity at a massive scale in all strata of the society. As a result of the decision, the idle business activity will get a new life especially in the business of food stuff like poultry, marriages, lawns and hotels besides pushing catering business.

In 1997, the then government through an Ordinance had enforced a ban on serving food in the wedding ceremonies through an Act approved by the legislative assembly. In its decision of November 8, 2002, the Supreme Court observed that the federal government had no power to enact a law, outlawing serving of food in valima receptions.

Besides the federal government no powers to promulgate the Marriage (Prohibition of Wasteful Expenses) Ordinance 1997, as ultra vires (beyond powers or authority) to the Constitution as it was neither covered by the federal or concurrent legislative list.