At last, the Pakistan Senate passed the much-awaited landmark Hindu Marriage Bill 2017. It will allow the Hindus in Pakistan to have a personal law for the first time and Hindu women will get documentary proof of their marriages.
The lower house or the National Assembly first approved the bill on September 26, 2015 and it will just need a signature of the President to become a law. Once the law is approved, it will be applicable on Pakistani Hindus in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid presented the bill in the senate and no one opposed the bill. On January 2, the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights approved the bill with a majority. But Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar opposed the bill saying the constitution is able to fulfil the requirements.
On Friday, the Committee chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said, “The act is totally unfair. This move not only opposes Islamic principles but also it violates the human rights.”
A Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani who had been working relentlessly for three years to have a Hindu marriage law in Pakistan said, “Such laws will help discourage forced conversions and streamline the Hindu community after the marriage of individuals.”
The bill allows the Hindu community to get their marriages registered and to appeal in courts in cases of separation.
There are also penalties for violating the provisions of the bill. It enables the Hindus to have a proof of marriage document called shadi parath like nikahnama for Muslims.
The bill also allows separated Hindu persons to remarry. Clause 17 of the bill mentions “a Hindu widow shall have the right to re-marry 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”.
Almost 2 million Hindus are living in Pakistan with almost 90 percent live in Sindh province.