ISLAMABAD: Though it has become an act of parliament, the first family law for Hindus remains useless as rules for the law have not yet been prepared.
Implementing the Hindu Marriage Act seems to be challenging for the authorities as the law demands the establishment of marriage registrars, who have to be Hindus, for registering of marriages and maintaining a record.
The Ministry of Human Rights recently directed the provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to devise rules for the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, keeping in view section 6(2) and sections 7(1)(2)(3) of the law which relate to the establishment of marriage registrars and its functions.
Section 7(1) of the act says: “The government shall, by notification in official gazette, appoint one or such members of marriage registrars in the territory of a district or such other areas as would be convenient for Hindu population living in the said district or such other areas.”
Law requires establishment of marriage registrars, provinces have yet to finalise marriage certificates
Though the law departments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have forwarded the federal government’s directives to their relevant departments, the establishment of marriage registrars at the district level seems to be challenging for the provinces and Islamabad.
“We are looking into the matter and there is a possibility a community elder will be designated as marriage registrar,” a senior official of the ICT administration said.
He said the authorities were also being cautious and did not want to offend the Hindu community by appointing a marriage registrar who is not a Brahman or who is not from the upper class.
“At the same time, we have limited interaction with the Hindu community in Islamabad so knowing what their sentiments are is not easy,” he added.
Similar issues seem to be delaying the establishment of rules for the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 approved in February 2016.
There are currently two Hindu marriage laws in the country, one formulated by the federal government which are applicable in Punjab, Balochistan, KP and Islamabad and the other was approved by the PPP-led Sindh government.
Punjab, KP and Balochistan have forwarded resolutions, granting the federal government rights to formulate the said law, which is in regards to a provincial matter.
The federal law says marriages have to be registered within 15 days but no progress has been made in this regard as the provinces have not even notified shaadiparaads yet.
Shaadiparaad is a certificate of marriage issued by a marriage registrar which certifies the solemnisation of a Hindu marriage.
The human rights ministry recently forwarded letters to the law departments of KP, Punjab and Balochistan and to the Islamabad chief commissioner to notify the shaadiparad and to devise rules for the implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act 2017.
The draft marriage certificate required details of the husband and wife along with their CNIC numbers.
A draft of the shaadiparad forwarded by the human rights ministry also contains a declaration by the man and woman which is to be submitted to the marriage registrar saying neither of them have a living spouse at the time of marriage.
It requires them to declare they are of sound mind, are capable of giving valid consent and that both have reached the age of 18.
The marriage registrar will then issue a Form II, which is a certificate of registration of marriage, to the now married couple.
Community activist Krishan Sharma said both marriage laws will be ineffective till they are implemented, which is not possible till rules are made for them.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2017