'Hindu Marriage Bill' becomes law in Pakistan
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain passed the Hindu Marriage Bill, extending protection to Hindu marriages and safeguarding the rights of Hindu minorities. Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif said Hindus were "as patriotic as any other community and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide equal protection to them." Marriage registrars would be appointed for Hindus in areas where they reside.
About the Hindus in Pakistan
Hindus of Pakistani descent are called Pakistani Hindus, who constitute nearly 2% of population. Hinduism is Pakistan's second-largest religion, after Islam; Pakistan has the world's fifth-largest Hindu population. As of 1998, the Hindu population was found to be nearly 2,450,000; while found in all provinces, they are concentrated mostly in Sindh. After the 1947 partition, 4.7 million Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India.
After decades, Pakistan approves Hindu Marriage Bill
After a decades-long delay, in Feb'16, Pakistan's National Assembly standing committee on law and justice unanimously approved the Hindu Marriage Bill allowing Pakistani Hindus to have a marriage law. In Sep'16, the lower house of the Parliament passed the landmark bill. The bill addressed Hindu community's key issues like divorce, violation of women's rights and disproportionately targeting them for abductions and forced conversions.
Pakistan's Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 close to becoming law
In a landmark move, a parliamentary panel of Pakistan approved the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016. The bill inching closer to becoming a law would allow the country's Hindu minority to register their marriages. The Functional Committee on Human Rights of the Senate - the Upper House of Parliament - unanimously approved the bill. Some legislators called the development as New Year's gift for Hindus.
The bill now needs the Senate's approval
The bill, which was approved by a National Assembly (lower house) committee in Feb'16, was passed in the house in Sep'16 after a prolonged debate over several of its provisions. The bill now awaits approval by the Senate.
A comprehensive and widely acceptable family law
The bill, if it becomes law, would be beneficial especially for Hindu women in acquiring official documents like passports in the absence of legal provisions to register marriages. The passage of the bill would result in "adoption of a comprehensive and widely acceptable family law" for Pakistani Hindus. It would enable Hindus to register their marriages or appeal in courts in divorce cases.
The bill not conflict with Islamic jurisprudence
Pakistani Senator and a leading lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, said the bill was following the essence of Pakistan's Constitution. He added that the bill wasn't in conflict with Islamic jurisprudence as Islam emphasizes the protection of minorities.
Bill allows Hindus to remarry
The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 allows separated Hindus to remarry. The bill's clause 17 says a Hindu widow "shall have the right to remarry 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". Penalties would also be imposed for violating the provisions of the bill.
Pakistan Senate passes Hindu Marriage Bill
Pakistan Senate passed "The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017", which will allow the Hindu community in Pakistan their personal law. Sindhis already have a Hindu marriage law. The bill is expected to get presidential assent next week. It will facilitate 'Shadi Parath', which will be signed by a pundit and officially registered. Though there was no opposition, Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar had protested the bill.