ISLAMABAD, 20 March: President Mamnoon Hussain on Sunday signed and promulgated the Hindu Marriage Bill into law. The law will protect Hindu marriages and family rights.
The president signed the bill on the advice of the prime minister.
According to Radio Pakistan, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that his government had always focused on the provision of equal rights to minority communities, residing in Pakistan. He said that minorities are as patriotic as any other community is and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide equal protection to them. He said that through this bill, Hindu families would be able to solemnize marriages in accordance with the customary rites, rituals, and ceremonies.He said the government would appoint marriage registrars in areas convenient for Hindu population for registration of their marriages.
The Hindu Marriage Bill provides for procedures relating to restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, void and voidable marriages, termination of Hindu marriage, the financial security of wife and children, alternative relief in termination of marriage and termination of marriage by mutual consent.
The legislation prohibits the marriage of minors and prescribes a minimum age of 18-years for contracting marriage in addition to protecting the customs and customary rites of the Hindu community.
Moreover, this law also provides the right of separated person to marry again, entitlement of re-marriage by a Hindu widow at her own will and consent after the stipulated time, the legitimacy of the child born, out of the void and voidable Hindu marriage.
Under this law, Hindu marriages solemnized before the commencement of this law would be deemed valid and petitions under this law would be presented to the family courts.
The law also provides for punishments of imprisonment and fines up to Rs 100,000 or both for contraventions. All offenses under this law would be non-cognizable and non-compoundable and would be triable by Court of First Class Magistrate.
It also introduces the concept of judicial separation. Moreover, the legitimacy of children born out of the void and voidable Hindu marriages has also been protected under the bill.
Hindu women will also be now able to get documentary proof of their marriage.
Earlier this month, the National Assembly had passed the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016, after amendments made by the Senate, to regulate marriages of Hindus in Pakistan.
The bill was tabled before the house by Minister of Human Rights Kamran Michael on September 27, 2016.