After decades of delay and inaction, Pakistan government is expected to table the much- debated Hindu Marriage Bill at the next session of Parliament later this month, a media report said on Sunday.
The landmark legislation, which seeks to give a legal framework to the marriages in minority community, is expected to address key issues of the Hindu community, including matters relating to the registration of marriages, divorce and forced conversions, Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael said.
Michael is likely to table the bill at the next session of Parliament, Express Tribune reported.
"It will be a historic day… and the credit goes to (both the) opposition and ruling parties which are on the same page on the draft (bill)," Michael said.
He had tried to move the bill on September 9, but a few minority lawmakers were not present in the house and the matter was deferred to the next session which will be held in the last week of September.
On August 17, the National Assembly’s standing committee on law and justice tabled its report on bill which had been pending with the panel since March last year.
The draft law was originally moved by two minority lawmakers Ramesh Lal of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Asiya Nasir of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) JUI-F. The draft bill was later supported by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) party which is headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
A large number of Hindu community members, especially women, do not have basic documentation to prove their marital status. They are also deprived of legal rights, such as inheritance, remarriage, separation, adoption of children and annulment of marriage; they also face problems while travelling abroad.
The bill is expected to put an end to the practice of abduction of married Hindu women.
The legislation is expected to institutionalise all legal rights relating to marriage. All Hindu marriages will be registered in accordance with the provisions of this act. Such registration shall take place within 15 days of a marriage.
Similarly, Hindu widows will now have the right to remarry of their own free will six months after the death of her husband, according to the provisions of the bill.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s minority lawmaker Lal Chand Malhi appreciated the bill and said, "I believe the government and the opposition (parties) must focus on such legislation to protect (the rights of all) marginalised communities".
Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have consented to the federal government formulating a Hindu marriage law that they would then adopt, while Sindh had formulated its own Hindu marriage registration law.