Pakistan Parliament passes landmark Hindu Marriage Bill

The news

Pakistan’s Parliament has passed the landmark bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in the country.

Key facts of the Hindu Marriage Bill 2017

  • It is the first comprehensive personal law applicable for the Hindu community in the country and covers:
    • Marriage
    • Registration of marriage
    • Separation
    • Remarriage
  • The new law makes way for the issuance of a “Shaadi Parath”.
  • The Bill sets the minimum marriageable age for men and women at 18.
  • The law will be applicable in provinces of:
    • Punjab
    • Balochistan
    • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • The Sindh province already has its own Hindu marriage law.
  • For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a bill provides mechanism for registration of Hindu marriage which includes conditions for contracting the marriage, procedure for dissolution of the marriage and the grounds on the basis of which such a marriage can be dissolved.
  • It also provides the concept of judicial separation where marriage remains intact; however, parties are no longer under obligation to cohabit each other.
 “Shaadi Parath”
  • A document signed by the pundit and approved by the department concerned, which is aimed at helping Hindu women get documentary evidence of their marriage.
  • –It is a document similar to ‘Nikahnama’ in Muslims.
  • Both the bride and the groom have to sign the document along with one witness and the registrar.
India’s Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act
  • The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act was passed in 1937 with the aim to formulate an Islamic law code for Indian Muslims.
  • The British who were at this point in time governing India, were trying to ensure that Indians be ruled according to their own cultural norms.
  • For the Muslims, the writings in the Quran was given the foremost importance. Since 1937 therefore, the Shariat Application Act mandates aspects of Muslim social life such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and family relations. The Act lays out that in matters of personal dispute the State shall not interfere.
Are personal laws specific to only Muslims in India?
  • Such legislations have been made over the years for other religious groups in India as well, thereby framing separate civil codes for different religions in the country. For instance, the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 which lays out guidelines for property inheritance among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
  • The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936 lays out rules to be followed by the Parsis according to their religious traditions.
  • The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 had codified laws related to marriage among Hindus. In fact, this Act had been amended to include laws on divorce and separation which were previously not part of it.
  • Apart from these separate civil codes related to marriage, there exists a Special Marriage Act as well which was last amended in 1954. It lays out provisions for marital laws irrespective of the religion to which the persons concerned belong. Muslims too can get married under this law.