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Pak parliamentary panel fails to approve Hindu marriage law

Islamabad: The minority Hindu community in Pakistan will have to wait more before they can register their marriages as the lawmakers today deferred till July 13 the final approval of the Islamic country’s first Hindu marriage law.

The Hindus, who constitute 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s total population, have been struggling to get a specific marriage law since the country was founded in 1947.

Hindu marriages can not be legalised or registered in Pakistan in absence of such a law.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights headed by Chaudhry Muhammad Bashir Virk met here to discuss and finalise a set of laws to formalise and facilitate registration of Hindu marriages.

An official said that the committee deferred the approval till July 13 when it is expected to approve a final draft of ‘The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015′ and ‘The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2014′.

The 2014 bill was jointly presented in the parliament last year by Ramesh Lal of opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Dr Darshan of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

A separate but similar government law known as ‘The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015′ had been tabled in the parliament by Law Minister Pervaiz Rashid in March this year.

The two bills will establish rules and regulation for registration of marriage and divorce for Pakistani Hindus, as currently in the absence of such a law, Hindus in the country do not even have a legal document as proof of marriage.

The private member bills do not have express consent of the government and are rarely passed, while the government bills are moved with the backing of sitting government.

In cases of importance like the proposed Hindu Marriage Act, the private member bill is usually backed by the government or the private member withdraw the bill in favour of the official law after necessary changes.

PPP’s Ramesh Lal said that it appeared the government wanted to take credit as there was hardly any difference between the bill moved by him and the government bill.

He said they had moved the bill in March last year and it was pending before the concerned committee, when the government introduced its own bill this year.

The official bill moved in March is almost identical to private members’ bill moved last year.

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