LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly, which is about to complete its constitutional tenure on May 31, has failed to frame rules of business to regulate the marriages of the province’s Hindu community, Pakistan Today learnt Wednesday.
Amarnath Randhawa, President of Hindu Sudhar Subah, an NGO working for the rights of Hindu minorities, expressed frustration over the issue and lamented that the Punjab Assembly was tasked to frame the rules of business through the Law Department but had failed to do so.
“Nothing has been changed. Hindus like always are unable to register their marriages and there is no legal assistance available for them as of yet,” he said.
He lamented that the Punjab Assembly was about to complete its term but the rulers had not paid heed to a genuine issue being faced by the Hindu community. According to him, it was unfortunate that the Sikh Marriage Act was passed by the assembly even though Sikhs were small in number as compared to the Hindus.
It may be noted that the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed the Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriages Act 2017 in March 2018 to provide legal status to Sikh marriages in the province and it was tabled by Sikh Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora. It effectively repealed the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, that was passed under the British rule.
Hindu MPA Kanji Ram said he made untiring efforts to frame rules of business in the Punjab Assembly for regulating marriages of the Hindu community. “The Punjab Assembly had no time for Hindus who make around 10 million of the country’s total population, but they had time for Sikhs, the number of whom in Punjab is only 5,000,” he said.
The lawmaker said rules of business were necessary for the operational structure and functioning of the bill and in their absence, marriages of Hindu women were not officially registered and they could not have their own National Identity Cards (NICs). He said that Sindh had framed its own laws for regulating the marriages of the Hindus but Punjab had done nothing.
It is worth mentioning here that the National Assembly passed the landmark Hindu Marriage Act 2017 on March 21, 2017, which was the first elaborate personal law of the Hindu community. It pertains to marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage, with the minimum age of marriage set at 18 years for both boys and girls.
The law paved way for a document ‘Shadi Parath’ on the pattern and similar to the ‘Nikahnama’ for Muslims to be signed by a pundit and registered with the relevant government department. However, the absence of rules of business has made it hard for the Hindus, especially women, to regulate their marriages.