ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Assembly finally appro­ved the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 on Monday, paving the way for the adoption of a comprehensive and widely-acceptable family law for Hindus living in Pakistan.

The bill was tabled before the house by Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael. Though approved unanimously by the lower house without any opposition from political parties, the law met with minor objections raised by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) MNA Lal Chand Malhi.

He pointed towards Clause 12(iii), which deals with ‘Annulment of Hindu Marriage’, saying that it could encourage or give cover to ‘forced conversions’. The clause stipulates that any marriage under this act could be annulled if the other party “has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition”.

A proviso defines ‘desertion’ as “desertion of petitioner by other party to the marriage without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the wish of such party and includes the willful neglect of the petitioner by the other party”.

However, the minister for Human Rights pacified the Hindu legislator from Umerkot, assuring him that he had misunderstood the clause.

PML-N’s Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, one of the movers of the bill, told Dawn that while there were certain shortcomings in the bill it was a laudable and bold step taken by the present government.

“There was no Hindu marriage law in the country for 66 years — the country’s leadership and all the political parties in the parliament have done a commendable job,” Dr Vankwani added.

He has been pursuing the law for almost three years and it took the Standing Committee on Law and Justice around 10 months to clear the bill.

The draft Bill was approved by the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice on February 8, 2016. Committee Chairman Chaudhary Mehmood Bashir Virk said that the delay was mainly due to certain technical points in the bill.

“This is a complete bill and it relates to the lives of our fellow citizens, therefore all segments including the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) was consulted during the course of discussions, so that there are no complaints from anybody after the law is enforced,” Mr Virk added.

The bill also allows separated Hindu persons to remarry. Clause 17 of the bill states that Hindu widows “shall have the right to re-marry of her own will and consent after the death of her husband provided a period of six months has lapsed after the husband’s death”.

There are penalties for violating the provisions of the bill, which also enables Hindus to finally have a proof of marriage document called the shadiparat, similar to the nikahnama for Muslims. The bill will now be forwarded to the Senate for consideration and passage.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2016

Opinion

Climate & youth

Climate & youth

Disillusionment and anxiety are on the rise among youth as they confront the diminishing prospects of a better tomorrow.
Our exclusivity syndrome
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Our exclusivity syndrome

Pakistan needs at least a minimum level of inclusivity that can keep alive democratic values.
Shafqat Kakakhel
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Shafqat Kakakhel

COP26 has to achieve consensus on several issues.

Editorial

Carnage in Kandahar
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Carnage in Kandahar

Pakistan’s anti-extremism policy is in many ways half-baked and inconsistent.
17 Oct 2021

Sanctity of contracts

PAKISTAN is facing yet another international dispute before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment...
17 Oct 2021

New sports policy

THIS week, the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee chief Haroon Malik was in Zurich to hold ...
Diminishing freedom
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...