Pakistan adopts Hindu marriage law

Islamabad: The Pakistani parliament has adopted the landmark Hindu Marriage Law to regulate the community’s marriages in the country.

The Hindu Marriage Bill, unanimously passed on Thursday, will be the first personal law to regulate marriages in the Hindu community living in Pakistan, Dawn online reported.

Minister for Human Rights Kamran Michael presented the bill, which was approved by the Senate in February, in the National Assembly. It now needs President Mamnoon Hussain’s signature to become a law.

According to Michael, it was a constitutional obligation to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities and to protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child.

“There was no law to regulate the registration of Hindu marriages and ancillary matters thereto”, he said.

He said the government was committed to protecting and promoting the human rights, including the rights of women and minorities.

The bill was finalised after numerous consultations with relevant ministries/divisions and representatives of the Hindu community.

According to the bill, the minimum age of 18 has been prescribed for marriage.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a bill provides mechanism for registration of Hindu marriage which includes conditions for contracting the marriage, procedure for dissolution of the marriage and the grounds on the basis of which such a marriage can be dissolved.

It also provides the concept of judicial separation where marriage remains intact, however, parties are no longer under obligation to cohabit each other.

The bill will help Hindu women to get documentary proof of their marriage.

The Ministry of Human Rights had been working relentlessly for three years to have a Hindu marriage law in the country.

The law will be applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The Sindh province already has its own Hindu marriage law.

The law paves the way for “Shadi Parat” containing particulars of bride and groom to be signed by a pundit and registered with the relevant government department.