Pakistan: Hindu marriage bill finally cleared by National Assembly

Lahore [Pakistan], Sept. 27 : Making way for the adoption of a widely-acceptable family law for the Hindu community living in Pakistan, the National Assembly has finally approved the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016.

According to Dawn, the bill which was tabled before the house by Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael, will now be forwarded to the Senate for consideration and passage The bill also allows separated Hindu persons to remarry.

Clause 17 of the bill states that Hindu widows "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".

There are penalties for violating the provisions of the bill, which also enables Hindus to finally have a proof of marriage document called the 'shadiparat', similar to the 'nikahnama' for Muslims.

Even though the legislation was approved unanimously by the lower house without any opposition from political parties, the law met with minor objections raised by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) MNA Lal Chand Malhi.

He pointed towards Clause 12(iii), which deals with 'Annulment of Hindu Marriage', saying that it could encourage or give cover to 'forced conversions'.

The clause stipulates that any marriage under this act could be annulled if the other party "has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition".

A proviso defines 'desertion' as "desertion of petitioner by other party to the marriage without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the wish of such party and includes the willful neglect of the petitioner by the other party".

However, the minister for Human Rights pacified the Hindu legislator from Umerkot, assuring him that he had misunderstood the clause.

Source: ANI