Landmark Hindu Marriage Bill Passed In Pak Senate

The Pakistani Senate (Upper House of the Parliament) unanimously passed the much-awaited Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 on Friday to regulate marriages of the minority community people. With the Senate clearing the landmark bill, it is set to become a law in the Muslim-majority South Asian country.
The Pakistani daily ‘Dawn’ reported that the Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 elaborates Hindu community’s personal law for the first time. Although the Senate adopted the Bill on February 17, the National Assembly or Lower House of the Parliament had passed the Bill a couple of years ago (September 26, 2015). Now, the Bill needs signature of President Mamnoon Hussain to become a law.
As expected, members of the minority community have welcomed the Senate’s move as they believe that the Bill will not only help Hindus register their marriages, but also to get divorce and re-marriage (after separation with first wife or husband). Moreover, the Bill will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.
Pakistani Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who presented the Bill in the Senate, told the House that the first personal law for Hindus would be applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces. The Sindh Province has already formulated its own Hindu Marriage Law, according to the minister.
Majority of the lawmakers in Pakistan expressed sympathetic views about the condition of Hindus while backing the Bill. Mufti Abdul Sattar of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl was the lone senator who opposed the bill, saying that the Constitution was vast enough to cater to such needs. However, the Senate rejected his view.
For her part, Chairperson of Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights and senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Nasreen Jalil said: “This was unfair – not only against the principles of Islam, but also a human rights violation – that we have not been able to formulate a personal family law for the Hindus of Pakistan.” Meanwhile, leading Hindu senator from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party Ramesh Kumar Vankwani expressed gratitude to the parliamentarians for passing the Bill. He stressed: “Such laws will help discourage forced conversions and streamline the Hindu community after the marriage of individuals.” Now, it will become easier for married Hindu women to prove that they are married, he told the House.
However, a section of Hindu parliamentarians have expressed concerns over one particular clause of the Bill. The clause, which deals with ‘annulment of marriage’, states that one of the partners can approach the court for separation, if anyone of them changes the religion.

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