KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday amended the Sindh Hindu Marriage Act 2016, awarding the right of separation to both husband and wife in addition to ensuring financial security of wife and children.

Lawmakers were informed that it was the last day of the assembly to do legislation as it would finally meet on Monday for farewell rituals.

The Sindh Hindu Marriage Act, 2016 (Amendment) Bill, 2018 happened to be the last bill of the provincial legislature, which is finishing its five-year term on Monday.

The bill was presented by the parliamentary party leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Nand Kumar, who said after the passage of the legislation the Hindu community would benefit as a whole, particularly women and children who had been denied those rights for decades in the absence of such a law.

He said the majority of Hindus in Pakistan lived in Sindh, thus the provincial government should be keen in developing the complete Hindu marriage law, which would benefit people of the community.

The house was informed that during the past few years matrimonial issues were increasing in the Hindu community and a large number of cases were seen in Sindh.

“These cases are exploited due to non-availability of law, resulting [in] decision of their own choice through panchayat and jirga, without considering the rights of women, children and their livelihood,” he added.

Senior Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Khuhro and Leader of the Opposition Khwaja Izharul Hasan supported the bill.

The law says: “Either party to Hindu marriage, whether solemnised before or after commencement of this Act, may present a petition to the court praying for decree of judicial separation.”

Resolution against SBCA

As the day’s session resumed, members from both sides of the aisle spoke over the protest staged by the employees of the Sindh Building Control Authority outside the assembly building’s gates.

They said more than 1,100 of them were being removed and had got show-cause notices by the local government department.

All the members were unanimous to stop such a move, as Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani said Pakistan Peoples Party was known to offer jobs and not to deprive people of their livelihoods.

A resolution, signed by members of the treasury and opposition benches, was unanimously adopted which reads: “This house condemns the cruel act on the part of the Sindh Building Control Authority regarding termination or removal from services of the employees who were appointed between 2011-15 and were regularised after completion of their probationary period and satisfaction of the administration of the department followed by verification of credentials or degrees.

“Such an act will not only increase unemployment in the province but also hurts the trust upon public functionaries and Government of Sindh.”

The resolution asked the LG secretary that he “shall restrain to remove the confirmed employees of SBCA and other employees of Sindh government departments and all cases of disputed employees shall be referred to ministerial committee (headed by the minister for law and the minister for local government) for further verification”.

The opposition benches, however, wanted to know why such orders had been issued by the LG department. However, their questions remained unanswered as the minister concerned was not in the house.

PML-F lawmaker raises ‘missing’ persons’ issue

On a calling-attention notice given by PML-F’s Nusrat Abbasi, she said for many months protests against “missing” persons were continuing across Sindh. She said more than 140 such individuals had been missing. She said their families wanted to know about their whereabouts.

Ms Abbasi said women who were sitting outside the Karachi Press Club lately received extremely humiliating attitude in which their clothes were torn. She asked which forces were behind that episode.

Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal said he had gone to the camp set up by the families of the “missing” persons where he had shared with them possible factors behind such disappearances.

“I had said they might have been kidnapped by dacoits wearing police uniform as such incidents have been reported lately. Besides, another possibility could be like a young woman [Naureen] Leghari for whom report was filed for her disappearance but then we got to know that she had left her house on her own.”

The minister said a joint investigation team comprising several agencies was there to investigate the issue.

He said an inquiry had been ordered into the incident vis-à-vis families of missing persons reported at the KPC.

The concord in the house was about to be disrupted when altercation was witnessed between Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, who was chairing the session then, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Kamran Akhtar.

Ms Raza was not happy with the voices disrupting the senior minister who was replying to a calling-attention notice of Mr Akhtar.

Her remarks that “it is hard for him to return to the assembly again” attracted severe reaction from Mr Akhtar.

MQM’s Faisal Subzwari asked the chair to withdraw her words, which she refused saying “they are singing such songs directed to me; perhaps, they are perplexed about their uncertain future”.

Water and power crisis

Mr Khuhro agreed to an adjournment motion tabled by MQM’s Sabir Kaimkhani regarding 50 per cent water shortage in Sindh. However, due to limited time, the member himself spoke over the adjournment motion in which he said water shortages had created huge unrest in Sindh as people were protesting across the province. He said crops would be severely hit due to such shortages.

Mr Khuhro blamed the federal government for not allowing water in Sindh’s deltaic regions because of which three million acres of its land had already been eroded by sea.

Khurram Sher Zaman too spoke on his adjournment motion about power outages in Karachi in which he slammed K-Electric, saying that it had turned into a monster which could not be controlled by anyone including the Sindh government.

He said the house had virtually failed in reining in K-Electric and ensuring uninterrupted power supply to the city.

Other bills

The house also passed the Regularisation of Doctors Appointed on Contract or Adhoc Basis Bill, 2018, which had earlier been passed and returned by the governor for reconsideration.

Besides, it passed the Sindh Institute of Traumatology Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Bill, 2017 and the Sindh Employees Social Security (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2018

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