ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2017, and with it the process of legislation for a personal law for the country’s Hindu community has now come to an end.

The bill was approved by the Senate in February this year with an amendment. It was first approved by the National Assembly in September last year. It has now been approved with the inclusion of Shadi Parath — a document similar to Nikahnama.

The bill will likely get presidential assent on Friday to become a law.

The Shadi Parath, titled as ‘Schedule A’ in the bill, will require to be signed by a pundit and will be registered with the relevant government department.

The simple document has eight columns starting with the date of marriage and followed by name of the union council, tehsil, town and district.

The document has columns for the particulars of the bridegroom — his name and father’s name (along with their CNIC numbers), date of birth, date and place where the marriage is solemnised, temporary address, etc. It also contains the matrimonial status — single, married divorced widower and number of dependents.

Similar details are required for the bride, except for one change. Her mother’s name has also to be written in the document.

Both the bride and the groom have to sign the document along with one witness and the registrar.

The Hindu marriage bill is the first personal law to regulate marriages of Hindus living in the country. It will help Hindu women to get documentary proof of their marriage.

The bill was presented by Senator Kamran Michael, Minister for Human Rights, in the National Assembly on Thursday.

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

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

The Hindu marriage bill provides for mechanism for registration of Hindu marriages which includes conditions for contracting the marriage, procedure for dissolution of the marriage and the grounds on the basis of which such marriage can be dissolved.

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

Moreover, the legitimacy of children born out of void and voidable Hindu marriages has also been protected.

After becoming a law, it will be applicable in three provinces — Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — as the federal government has obtained resolutions from these provinces. Sindh province has already formulated its own Hindu Marriage Law.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2017

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