Pakistan President signs Hindu marriages bill

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Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain on Sunday signed a bill that allows minority Hindu families to solemnize marriages in accordance with the customary rites, rituals and ceremonies, the president house said.

The parliament had passed the "The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017" last week to regulate marriages of Hindus.

The government will appoint marriage Registrars in areas convenient for Hindu population for registration of their marriages.

This law also provides for procedures relating to restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, void and voidable marriages, termination of Hindu marriage, financial security of wife and children, alternate relief in termination of marriage and termination of marriage by mutual consent.

Hindus will now fill a document that is similar to Muslims' "Nikahnama" and will be signed by a Hindu pundit and registered with the relevant government department. The document has columns for particulars of the bridegroom -- his name and father's name, date of birth, date and place where the marriage is solemnized and temporary address.

Moreover, this law also provides the right of separated person to marry again, entitlement of re-marriage by 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 this Law, Hindu marriages solemnized before commencement of this law shall be deemed valid and petitions under this law shall be presented to the Family Courts.

The law also provides for punishments of imprisonment and fines up to one hundred thousand rupees or both for contraventions. All offences under this Law shall be non-cognizable and non-compoundable and shall be triable by Court of Magistrate First Class.

The bill after its assent will be enacted as Law of the Land aiming to protect the marriage, the family, the mother, and child and also to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Hindu families. It is a consolidated Law for solemnization of marriages by Hindu families residing in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who had advised the president to sign the bill has said that the government has always focused on provision of equal rights to minority communities residing 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", the prime minister said in a statement.

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