Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has moved a private members bill in the forthcoming Budget Session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to limit wedding expenses in the State.The draft Bill has been submitted by MLA Kanwar Sandhu, who was also the Chairman of the Party's Manifesto Team in the run up to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls in 2017. The copy of the Bill was submitted to the Secretary, Vidhan Sabha last week and it remains to be seen if it is tabled during the Session.The draft Bill moved by Sandhu limits the number of guests on each side to 51 guests. It also places restrictions on the number of dishes to be served during the main functions of the wedding - there will be three main course vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. As per the provisions of the Bill, no alcoholic beverages would be served during the public functions, which includes mehndi, sangeet, barat, anand karaj, laavan, nikah and reception. Violation of the Bill provides for stringent punishment, which includes imprisonment up to six months and a fine ranging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 Lakh.In its "Statements of Objects and Reasons", the proposed Bill states that it is being introduced to lessen the hardships of the people of the state, including farmers, who are in the grip of a severe financial crisis.
"While farming has become a non-lucrative way of sustenance, a very large number of farmers are also under peer pressure to put up a facade of prosperity during weddings and other functions in the family after taking huge loans. This adds to their hardships and people who are unable to free themselves from this vicious social trap, have been committing suicides. In urban areas too, service professions, traders and others are finding it difficult to make two ends meet and yet spend lakhs and crores on the main marriage functions of their progeny. Government interventions will provide great financial and social relief to the people."The proposed Bill also provides for greater stringency on carrying and firing of weapons at the weddings and related functions. In case of use of weapon in marriage function resulting in injury, the Bill provides for punishment of not less than five years and a fine of Rs One Lakh but may extend to life and a fine of Rs 10 Lakh (depending on the severity of injury). It also provides for steps to ensure the venue is swept clean after the function is over.When asked as to what prompted him to introduce the Bill, Sandhu said that, "Such a Bill to limit wedding expenses is the need of the hour and privately most people have been talking of the need for such a measure. But no one is willing to bell the cat. We are sure, once it comes about, it will be welcomed. The Government's attitude towards it will also show how sincere it is to the welfare of the people and ameliorating the plight of the farmers and farm labour," he said.