ISLAMABAD: Hindu representatives in Pakistan are divided over including a divorce clause in the proposed Hindu Marriage Act 2008. The decades-old problem of registering Hindu marriages seems no closer to being solved, as the government and Hindu leaders have so far been unable to reach a consensus on the issue.
Those defiantly against including the clause believe that there is no concept of divorce in Hinduism. Chief Patron Pakistan Hindu Council Ramesh Kumar said that his community will never allow the government to incorporate the clause. “How can we accept this clause which is not part of our religion,” said Kumar.
MNA Dr Araish Kumar echoed this view. “Our religion does not allow divorce,” he said, adding that Parliament should pass the bill without the controversial clause.
Pakistan Muslim League-Q MNA Kishan Chand Parwani disagrees, however, pointing to several factors, such as conversion to another religion and sexual problems, as potentially justifiable reasons for the divorce of a Hindu couple.
The government is sticking to its guns on the issue. PPP MNA Ramesh Lal believes the divorce clause is essential, pointing to India’s Hindu Marriage Act of 1956, which also contains the clause.
Parwani introduced the Hindu Marriage Act 2011 on Tuesday which endorsed the already pending bill in the National Assembly. The newly tabled bill contains important clauses related to divorce in Hindus religion. According to it, any marriage solemnized before or after the commencement of this act may be dissolved by a decree of divorce on the grounds mentioned in the bill.
Meanwhile, Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill has called a meeting of representatives of the Hindu community to develop a consensus on the issue by the end of the month. Gill explained that those with reservations on the inclusion of the clause should offer their recommendations so that a final draft of the bill can be tabled in Parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2011.