The ‘Hindu Marriage Bill, 2017’ was unanimously passed on March 10 by the National Assembly in Pakistan. Aimed at regulating marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan, President Mamnoon Hussain gave his approval to the Bill on the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said, “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’.”

Further, the statement mentions, “It is a consolidated law for solemnisation of marriages by Hindu families residing in Pakistan.”

Prime Minister Sharif said that his government has always focused on provision of equal rights to minority communities residing in Pakistan. He said, “They are as patriotic as any other community and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide equal protection to them.”

The statement said the Hindu families will be able to solemnise marriages in accordance with the customary rites, rituals and ceremonies.

It is the first law which would be applicable to all the provinces: Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — except Sindh province which has its own law to regulate marriages of Hindus

As per the legislation, the government will appoint marriage registrars for facilitating registration of Hindu marriages. It prohibits the marriage of minors and prescribes a minimum age of 18 years. In addition, it provides 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 divorcee 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.