Hindu Marriage Bill tabled in Pakistan’s national assembly

From Sajjad Hussain Islamabad, Aug 18 (PTI) After decades of delay andinaction, the much-debated Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 that seeksto give a legal framework to the marriages in minoritycommunity, has finally been tabled in Pakistan’s NationalAssembly. The report of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice onthe Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 was presented in the NationalAssembly yesterday and is just one step away from beingapproved as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)party is supporting it. Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ramesh Lal, one ofthe bill’s movers, said it took around 10 months for thecommittee to clear the bill and another six months for itsreport to be presented in the house. The bill was approved by the standing committee onFebruary 8. "The delay was possibly because of extraordinary debatesand discussion around the bill, but at least now thegovernment should consider tabling it in the house in the nextsession," Dawn online quoted Lal as saying. According to the chairman of the committee, ChaudhryBashir Virk: "All segments – including the Council of IslamicIdeology (CII) – were consulted during the course ofdiscussions in the committee." However, some members of the Hindu community haveexpressed strong reservations regarding some of the bill’scontents including clause 12 on the ‘Termination of Hindumarriage’ and clause 15 on the ‘Termination of Hindu marriageby mutual consent’. The draft bill allows separated individuals to remarry,and clause 17 states that a Hindu widow is entitled to remarryand shall have the right to do so, of her own will andconsent, after a period of six months since the death of herhusband. The bill is expected to put an end to the practice ofabduction of married Hindu women. "There are penalties for violating the provisions of thisact and anyone who kidnaps a married Hindu woman will beliable to punishments after this law is approved, because thevictim’s family will be able to show proof of marriage," Virksaid. The bill is also expected to curtail forced conversionsbecause it will allow the registration of Hindu marriages inthe relevant government departments, the report said. Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have consentedto the federal government formulating a Hindu marriage lawthat they would then adopt, while Sindh had formulated its ownHindu marriage registration law. PTI SH SUA AKJSUA

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