Source: News Bharati English20 Mar 2017 11:37:14

Islamabad, March 10: Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain on Monday gave his approval to the much-awaited Hindu Marriage Bill 2017, in a landmark move aimed to get Hindu marriages registered and separation cases could be resolved in the courts. The bill was already passed by both the houses of Pakistan parliament.

In a statement issued by the Pakistani PM Office on Sunday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the present government had always focused on the provision of equal rights to minority communities living 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 bill will enable the Hindu community to get their marriages registered and to appeal in courts of law in cases of separation. As well as bill prohibits the marriage of minors and prescribes a minimum age of 18-years for contracting marriage. It also protects the customs and customary rites of the Hindu community in Pakistan.

The bill also allows separated Hindu persons to remarry. Clause 17 of the bill states that a Hindu widow "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 elapsed after the husband’s death".

There are penalties for violating the provisions of the bill, which allows Hindus to finally have a proof of marriage document called the shadiparat, similar to the nikahnama for Muslims. Meanwhile, It will be the first personal law, applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa. Sindh has already formulated its own Hindu marriage law.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly had passed the bill in September last year, but in February this year, the Senate approved it with an amendment, requiring the assembly to pass it again. The bill was again adopted by the National Assembly on March 9 with the inclusion of Shadi Parath — a document similar to Nikahnama.

The Shadi Parath, titled as ‘Schedule A’ in the bill, will be signed by a pundit and registered with the government department concerned. The simple document has eight columns starting with the date of marriage and followed by the name of the union council, tehsil, town and district.