Divorce remains sticking point in Hindu Marriage Act

Published: October 12, 2011
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Hindus have struggled to register marriages due to chronic delays to the passage of the act by Parliament. PHOTO: FILE

Hindus have struggled to register marriages due to chronic delays to the passage of the act by Parliament. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The government and the Hindu community were unable to break their deadlock on Tuesday over the divorce clause in the Hindu Marriage Act. The clause has proved contentious since the bill was drafted in 2008, with the government defying Hindu leaders who believe divorce is not part of their religion’s culture.

Hindus are the largest minority in Pakistan but have struggled to register marriages due to chronic delays to the passage of the act by Parliament. In Pakistan there is currently no system for the registration of marriages for certain minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs and Baha’is.

“We will never allow the government to have a divorce clause in the Hindu Marriage Act,” said Chief Patron Pakistan Hindu Council Ramesh Kumar. “We have no concept of divorce in our religion,” said Kumar, a member in the National Assembly on a reserved seat for non-Muslims. Kumar has been campaigning for the issue for many years. In 2007 he filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for help to solve the problem without further delay.

Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill said his department was in the final stages of drafting the revised bill. “The divorce clause is an integral part of the Hindu Marriage Act,” he told The Express Tribune. Adding weight to his argument, Gill pointed to India’s Hindu Marriage Act of 1956, which contains a divorce clause, and said that his ministry would consult Indian experts on the issue if a consensus is not reached.

Clause 13, the controversial passage of the proposed 16-page bill, states that any Hindu can divorce his wife or her husband at any time and in any court. Various conditions have been proposed for divorce proceedings. The new draft empowers any court to entertain any petition for the legal dissolution of a marriage. Various other rules have also been mentioned in the bill, such as when divorcees may marry again, the legal rights of children, void and voidable marriages, the punishment of bigamy and punishments for other contraventions of Hindu marriage laws.

The proposed bill seems unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all for minorities. Indeed, Sikh community leaders have dispelled the impression that the proposed bill can also be applied to marriage registrations of Sikhs based on the Indian model.

Meanwhile, a new member’s bill was introduced in Parliament on Tuesday, though the details are yet to emerge. Pakistan Muslim League MNA Kishan Chand Parwani introduced The Hindu Marriage Bill 2011 – which perhaps might offer a compromise which finally bridges the gap between Hindu leaders and the government.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (44)

  • Ishant
    Oct 12, 2011 - 10:56AM

    As per Indian beliefs, marriage is a sacrament, a sacred relation not a contract.

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  • Singh
    Oct 12, 2011 - 12:44PM

    As per Hindu religion, a woman is the property of man and has no right to leave him. She is supposed to worship him and should touch his feet everyday to receive his blessings. The sole aim of her life is the happiness of her husband.

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  • Singh
    Oct 12, 2011 - 12:44PM

    As per Hindu religion, a woman is the property of man and has no right to leave him. She is supposed to worship him and should touch his feet everyday to receive his blessings. The sole aim of her life is the happiness of her husband.Recommend

  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 12, 2011 - 1:23PM

    @Ishant:
    So is sacred “Nikah”, When a man takes all the responsibilities of a woman.But we must keep in our mind whether it is Nikah or a Bandhan or Lagan,these are between human beings not animals, and God gives every human being to reconcile his or her matters if something goes wrong or if he or she thinks the carrier they are on will stop somewhere before reaching to it’s destination, so we Muslims have been blessed by a right of “talaaq” to use in extreme conditions.Every law of Muslims is according to nature so it is called “Deen e Fitrat”, there is no compulsion in Islam . We live in a circle of rights,whether some understands it or not.I don’t know what are the rights in a Hindu religion, and what the married couple had been doing when there were no act or law giving them rights to split the marriage.Can anyone help me understanding ,if a Hindu woman or a Hindu man wants to get rid of their marriages should they put the matter to “Bhagwan” or a Hindu court? I will be very thankful .Hindu marriages are very colorful and no doubt committed too, but again ,let me say we are human beings, and sometimes make mistakes in our decisions.

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  • Oct 12, 2011 - 1:30PM

    @Singh….I don’t agree to it in this modern age. Divorce is also being practised in India as well through courts.

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  • AD
    Oct 12, 2011 - 1:51PM

    Think about women, what if husband is alcoholic & abusive ? Hinduism is permanent ,but a correction can be incorporated.

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  • from india
    Oct 12, 2011 - 2:13PM

    Hindu marriage is considered to be sacrosanct …it is a social contract which continues to exists for thousand of years … now the problem is with the legal system because India and Pakistan are still following English legal system which still reminisces the Victorian vintage !!

    If the Pakistan Hindu community wishes to give legal effect to their marriage then the inclusion of a divorce clause is must. One of the essence of religious or personal laws is that it must cater to the needs of the society and be dynamic in nature !!

    In India, Sikhs, Janis and Buddhists are governed under Hindu law and considered to be Hindus for all legal purposes. That is why they are not a minority in India unlike the Jews, Parsis or Muslims. Although they are not counted as Hindus in the census.

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  • Oct 12, 2011 - 2:27PM

    Suffocating. So what does a woman do if she wants to get rid of her husband.?

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  • Oct 12, 2011 - 2:31PM

    Ishant, your mean as per ‘Hindu’ beliefs. So does that mean once you go round and round seven times, you’re stuck forever in the eyes of religion? And that getting divorced on paper carries no meaning?

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  • Deb
    Oct 12, 2011 - 2:32PM

    @Singh

    Can you please tell us about your source.Vedas,Upanishads,Gita? or some other text?
    I think you are mixing religion with staffs like rituals,customs,traditions etc.

    Being an atheist, I have very little interest in such topics,but felt compelled to comment because I am also allergic to ‘inane profanities’

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  • Tony Singh
    Oct 12, 2011 - 2:33PM

    @Singh:
    From where did you hear such crap? If you do not know anything abt religion, just do not comment.

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  • CB Guy
    Oct 12, 2011 - 2:51PM

    @ Singh: thanks for the info bro, very few people acknowledge that.

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  • Kamal
    Oct 12, 2011 - 4:19PM

    Are there some leading Hindu Scholars (within or with-out Pakistan) that the government can consult, bring to the negotiating table (along with the representatives and clergymen of the Pakistani Hindu community) to reach an amicable solution.

    P.S Why has this (a Hindu Marriage Act) taken so long to draft..? How were Pakistani Hindus marrying, in a lega before this..?

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  • from india
    Oct 12, 2011 - 5:04PM

    @ Natasha – you are spot on. Unfortunately, the Pakistani Hindu scholars are behaving like Mullahs to restrict the right of Hindu women in the eyes of law.

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  • faraz
    Oct 12, 2011 - 5:04PM

    I thought only we had this anti women bias in case of divorce

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  • Pritpala
    Oct 12, 2011 - 5:56PM

    This article is false beyond belief Sikhs are still having to marry under the special or Hindu Marriage Act in INDIA not Pakistan were they HAVE their own marriage certificate.

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  • Ali Tanoli,
    Oct 12, 2011 - 6:07PM

    Woman is human too she can not be made slave to man and like HInduism or even in christianity too women are just a slave to men in this regards Islam is the first reliegen who give woman to right of Divorce and right on property and meraige is comitment between two persons to live together its not a secred thing and one more thing to ad here
    chistians erase this thing from its reliegen after learning from islam. i am not sure which
    culture women are more opressed Hinduism, Christianism, OR Islam. Jai Hind

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  • Bipul Rajput
    Oct 12, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    Dear Sir, you typify what is wrong with Muslims today – hipocrisy. Muslims will insist that ONLY Islam provides solutions to all issues – including issues related to women’s emancipation – however the ground reality speaks otherwise. Women are worst off in Muslim majority countries. And your retort will be – these countries do not follow true Islam and the behaviour towards women is a cultural phenomenon and has nothing to do with Islam. So, shall we conclude that Islam is not strong enough to override local cultural practices ?

    So, please be realistic about Islam. There are things Islam can do and there are things Islam can not do – it is perfectly ok, it does not make Islam second or third best.

    And if you have a English translation of the Quran read up – Sura (2:228), Sura (4:11), Sura 4:176), Sura (4:176), Sura (53:27), Sura (37:149-155) and you will know how equal women are to men in Islam.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 12, 2011 - 10:22PM

    @Bipul Rajput:
    when someone draws attention to your religion’s basic flaws not giving the rights to a Hindu man and woman you people just make yourself disturb and try to attack Muslim society. Can you deny the fact that Hindu women after the demise of their husbands were dragged out of their homes to die alive with their “chitas” and your religion endorses it and still this is a practice unobtrusively,Here we are just sharing our matrimonial rights not the truism of Hindu or Islam. You should not be ashamed to accept that you are not a prophetic religion and all are thoughts and imaginations, no one came to you with a message and of course you have never been held accountable to God.All the hell earning things you listed for us like, hypocrisy etc, prevails in every religions.No society or religion is devoid of it. A great and live example of Islam being a true religion is that no where in the world but in India, Indian Hindus embraced Islam in great numbers than any where on this planet. Was that a trick or swindling of Muslims.?And that was not because Muslims are the best human beings on the earth but because they posses a precious gift of divine rules, if acted upon truly could make this world a heaven.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 12, 2011 - 10:41PM

    @Singh:
    You are infinite times correct, the whole world knows that.There is a saying” Bhains key agey been bajaney se kia fayedah”In fact they themselves know that but are reluctant to own that.but one thing is encouraging with times education has done something good to their cruel system against woman and educated Hindus are far away from these type of way of life.

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  • Dr. O. P. Sudrania
    Oct 12, 2011 - 10:54PM

    In a small column like this, it is difficult to understand the exact meaning, details of the law and its real issues involved vis-a-vis a completely hostile state like Pakistan against its minorities. I have been getting messages on this issue from Hindu groups complaining that they are not allowed to register their marriages. I do not know about their other issues like birth and death registry. But it is a shame that Pakistan over the last 64 years have not had time to act on this basic issue of Hindus and some other minorities. I am aware that Christians are allowed to register.

    As far as the question of divorce in Hindus is concerned, even India did not have it till 1956. yes, India now has it but again comparing it with Islamic Sharia may be irrelevant because both are two totally different perspectives not worthy of a comparative study.

    I think this is a serious issue especially in a state like Pakistan which has a totally different as well as difficult setup due to fundamentalist polarised society. Hence the details must be seen and carefully crafted out taking into account the sensitivities of the particular section of the society concerned.

    I see a few surrepticious comments with no sense and please do not make a fun of the serious
    issue involved. Sometimes on the net, people comment using fake names to spoil the debate, please refrain from such gimmicks. With regards to you all, please continue the debate in its right perspective so that it can help solve the problem; instead of confusing and complicating it.Recommend

  • Ishant
    Oct 12, 2011 - 11:19PM

    wow, so much ignorance regarding my comment, first of all, i am a lawyer myself, divorce is obviously allowed in Indian marriages. My point regarding Indian marriage being a sacrament, a sacred relation and not a contract which unlike Muslim or western marriages is that in India divorce is seen as a last option of settling a wedding dispute and lot of focus is on saving the marriage, unlike Muslim or western marriages, divorce in an Indian marriage not instant….

    for example u just cannot say “talaq talaq talaq” three time in front of some people and consider it over.

    @Ikramuddin Akbar

    “Muslims posses a precious gift of divine rules”, really, what is the authenticity of the divinity?

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  • Bipul Rajput
    Oct 13, 2011 - 12:33AM

    @Ikramuddin Akbar: I have no problem with ANYBODY pointing out flaws in Hindu ‘religion” or society. But you must admit it is nauseating to hear that Islam is the silver bullet for all of humanity.

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  • Inderjeet
    Oct 13, 2011 - 1:15AM

    Hindus and Sikhs are not like Muslims, we don’t say Talaq and treat our women like dirt that easy to divorce them. Marriage is sacred for us unlike for Muslims.

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  • fat joe
    Oct 13, 2011 - 1:44AM

    @Inderjeet: mate come on educate your self before commenting.i know u don’t treat them like dirt but perhaps you don’t know then what happens to ladies in Indian Punjab when they are married to 1 brother and used by whole family for satisfying the sexual appetites.And on the other hand the bond is so sacred that the women just belongs to one man and has to be burnt alive as in sati with the corpse of the husband.now correct me if i’m wrong.i’m not criticizing you but just asking you to calm ur self down and express your thoughts with facts and in a more civilized fashion.

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  • fat joe
    Oct 13, 2011 - 1:52AM

    @Ishant: c even is Islam it iz seen as the last resort to solve the matter in fact it is something which is dis-liked by Allah ant not appreciated show me any proof where Islam encourages to do talaq apart from Ur thoughts .

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  • fat joe
    Oct 13, 2011 - 1:55AM

    @Singh: what if the husband dies she should either burn herself to death or live in the forest cut off from the society ain’t.And what if she is young she can’t even marry agian and oh what of the kids we don’t know.All we know what was said thousands years ago still has to be justified to day.And i just forgot why even bother thinking about girls any not why not carry out killing of female babies all problems solved.

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  • Peace N Harmony
    Oct 13, 2011 - 2:08AM

    Inderjeet, I think you might be onto something here. Did you read the book by M.A.Khan?

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  • Rao(India)
    Oct 13, 2011 - 2:29AM

    It is more of an emotional bond than practical compensation issues. I admit that Islam is great in redressing women’s status as divorsee than in living relationship.

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  • fat joe
    Oct 13, 2011 - 2:50AM

    @Bipul Rajput:so will a conservative Hindu say that only hinduism provides theonly way out

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  • Ram Bharose Singh
    Oct 13, 2011 - 3:52AM

    @Ikramuddin Akbar: You said -“Can you deny the fact that Hindu women after the demise of their husbands were dragged out of their homes to die alive with their “chitas” and your religion endorses it and still this is a practice unobtrusively”

    Mr. Ikramuddin Akbar, That was a real gem. Make sure you never forget this. EVER. OK.
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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 13, 2011 - 9:23AM

    @Ram Bharose Singh: Don’t worry about the forgetfulness! we don’t remember things that was before Islam they are under our feet.

    @fat joe:
    Yes you are right ! also in an area of Nepal the only Hindu Kingdom on this planet there all brothers marry a single woman .The point is we are not attacking religions but the system within man made religion that is good bad or favorable for a society and human beings.

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  • from india
    Oct 13, 2011 - 11:52AM

    torture on women have taken place for centuries and still continuing…. christians killed millions of women, hindus burnt their widows so that the property gets divided between the existing brothers and not to include the widow, muslims are still torturing their women in few parts of the world….. but hang on, these are all evil practices, none of our holy books say the same…. so all those who are commenting here which sounds like “mine is bigger than yours”, just stop this utter non-sense !!

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 13, 2011 - 2:26PM

    @Ram Bharose Singh:
    At last rescued!

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  • Someone
    Oct 13, 2011 - 5:00PM

    @Inderjeet: At least in Islam, widows don’t have to burn themselves or live single for the rest of their lives, and are fully entitled within their rights to marry again.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 13, 2011 - 6:09PM

    @Bipul Rajput:
    That’s great you accepted your flaws! it takes courage.But your last line is still confusing, how come a religion be a silver bullet to humanity when even it proved humanity in your country by a ruler who married a Hindu Rajput lady and set an unambiguous example of religious tolerance amid orthodox Hindu society.? please at least remember your relatives with good names.Hope you won’t mind ,Thanks.

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  • Doctor
    Oct 13, 2011 - 6:53PM

    I think the simplest solution is to look at the Indian model and provide the same laws for Hindu Marriage in Pakistan. That way, the government acts in a non-discriminatory way. The Pakistani government has long discriminated against Hindus and Sikhs because of their supposed “Indian” ties but these people are Pakistanis and must be treated fairly.

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  • Ruksana
    Oct 13, 2011 - 8:39PM

    Everyone has there own believes about there religion good or bad. As for the Muslim religion is hard to understand why they treat women the way they do. For instance, muslim men wil marry there wife and leave them in there country and have other women here, never care how there wife is feelin, controllin them havin them like slaves while they can do that they want. And on top of that marry again and again. Marriage should be a reunion of understandin between husband and wife not havin the women being a man property. Christianity is the best way to go.Recommend

  • John B
    Oct 13, 2011 - 10:06PM

    Government has no business in personal union of man and a woman.

    Unfortunately we live in a world where the financial, inheritance, child custody, alimony and other issues are equally important so it becomes a necessary evil to have a marriage certificate.

    Almost all civilizations of the world practiced marriage in one form or the other, solemnized in some fashion of their belief and most often it was monogamy. It is also true that such union of marriage is also broken by the man or the woman.

    It is unfortunate PAK Hindu community has not benefitted from the progressive changes of Hindu civil society of India.

    In the end either a man or woman should have the option to leave the union for any reason. I can not expect any more love from my wife if she decides to leave me or vice versa.

    People don’t get divorced because of the divorce clause in laws.

    The Hindu leaders of PAK will do Hindu women a great favor by enacting the hindu marriage act with divorce clause that is essential in modern world for the mundane reasons, if divorce is necessary.

    Divorce is an issue that all religious communities around the world are trying to avoid since all religions consider marriage sacred.

    I stood before God and made a commitment to my marriage to my wife. I feel breaking that promise is turning away from the promise I made to god. I bet million others who are married feel the same way, and million others who get divorced also feel that her / his partner betrayed their commitment to god and to her / him.

    In the end it all comes down to the continued love of the man and woman in a marriage. If not, move on.

    The modern world needs inheritance rights, property rights, taxes, insurance benefits, children’s medical and education cost, familial rights, etc., and divorce proceeding clearly spelt out and enforced by law is essential.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 13, 2011 - 10:47PM

    @Ruksana:
    If you have just commented to publish your name, it has been published.Now are you “RUKSANA” or “Rukhsana” that seems correct! Your study on this subject is very limited if you will know the marriage life in America and Europe( Christian marriages) you would probably be voting for living without a marriage.Miss may i ask you where have you been up till now, the debate is about to it’s end. and yes if you don’t mind you are not on track, the topic is not about man,woman conjugal relationship neither “Bad Muslim” men but it is about the marriage rights for Hindus in a Muslim society.So let’s start again.

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  • Ram Bharose Singh
    Oct 13, 2011 - 10:52PM

    @Ikramuddin Akbar:
    I want to marry Muslim lady and set an unambiguous example of religious tolerance amid orthodox Muslim society. How do I do it?Recommend

  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Oct 14, 2011 - 1:24AM

    @Ram Bharose Singh:

    Knowing your willingness and that you want to show your limit of religious tolerance,the lady must be demanding you to embrace Islam, what would you do then?

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  • Nov 1, 2011 - 12:12PM

    Useful info. Recommend

  • Nov 24, 2011 - 1:09PM

    Divorce should be allowed in every religion. It will ensure freedom to lead his life happlily.

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