ISLAMABAD: In a landmark development, the bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan became a law today after President Mamnoon Hussain gave his approval. With the President's nod, Pakistan's Hindus got an exclusive personal law to regulate marriages. "On the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has assented to the 'The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017'," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
The law aims to protect marriages, families, mothers and their children while safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of Hindu families. "It is a consolidated law for solemnisation of marriages by Hindu families residing in Pakistan," the statement said. Prime Minister Sharif said that his government has always focused on provision of equal rights to minority communities residing in Pakistan. "They are as patriotic as any other community and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide equal protection to them," he said.
The statement said the Hindu families will be able to solemnise marriages in accordance with the customary rites, rituals and ceremonies. According to the law, the government will appoint marriage registrars in areas convenient for the Hindu population for registration of their marriages. This law also provides for procedures relating to restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, void and voidable marriages, termination of Hindu marriage, financial security of the wife and children, alternate relief in termination of marriage and termination of marriage by mutual consent.
The law provides the right to a separated person to marry again, entitlement of re-marriage for a Hindu widow at her own will and consent after stipulated time, legitimacy of child born out of void and voidable Hindu marriage. As per the law, Hindu marriages solemnised before commencement of this law shall be deemed valid and petitions under this law shall be presented before the family courts. The law also provides for punishments of imprisonment and fines up to Rs 100,000 or both for contraventions. All offences under this law could be tried in the court of a first class magistrate. It is the first law which would be applicable to entire Pakistan except Sindh province which has its own law to regulate marriages of Hindus.
The law was unanimously passed on March 10 by the National Assembly which endorsed amendments made by the Senate in February.