The Senate of Pakistan in the third week of February 2017 gave its approval to the Hindu Marriage Bill.
The bill seeks to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan. It will be the first personal law for Hindus living in Pakistan.
The bill was approved by the lower house of the Pakistan Legislature, National Assembly, on 26 September 2015.
Highlights of Hindu Marriage Bill
• The bill seeks to provide a special form of marriage and divorce among Hindus in Pakistan.
• The provisions of the bill are not applicable if neither of the parties to the marriage has a spouse living at the time of marriage.
• However, this provision shall not apply if a wife cannot conceive a child and medically declared to be so.
• The bill allows judicial separation of couples on five grounds. Most important among them are -
i. The other party renounced the Hindu religion and adopted another one
ii. If the partner has been suffering from a virulent and incurable form of disease
• The bill sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 years for both boys and girls.
• It will be applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The Sindh province has already formulated its own Hindu Marriage Act.
• Most importantly, the bill is considered as a progressive piece of legislation as it will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.
• Previously, married Hindu women had to prove that they were married, which was one of the key tools for miscreants involved in forced conversion.
• The law paves the way for issuance of a document called as Shadi Parath. This document is similar to the ‘Nikahnama’ for Muslims.
• The bill defines Shadi Parath is a certificate or document of marriage issued by the Marriage Registrar.
• Every marriage solemnized under this Act shall be registered within fifteen days in accordance with the provision of this Act.