Provinces seem no longer interested in empowering the federal government so that it can enact legislation for around two million Hindus and enable them to legalise their marriages.
Law and justice ministry officials told The Express Tribune on Sunday that the provinces’ lack of interest has become a stumbling block in getting the laws passed. The laws will allow members of the Hindu community to register their marriages for the first time in the country.
On the directions of the Supreme Court, the law ministry wrote to all the provinces to empower under Article 144 to introduce the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015 before parliament, they added.
Read: Hindu Marriage Bill 2015: Govt all set to pass landmark legislation
“Provinces have yet to respond to the centre’s request, the law ministry repeatedly wrote to them since April 2015,” said MNA Ramesh Kumar.
In April this year, the apex court directed provincial governments to empower the federal government for federal-level legislation to resolve this chronic issue within two weeks, said Kumar, who is also patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council.
Currently, the ministry of law and justice prepared the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015 which would only be operating in Islamabad Capital Territory, Law Secretary justice (retd) Raza Khan said. If provinces, in light of the apex court’s directions, pass the resolutions under Article 144, the federal government will extend the laws across the country, he observed.
Article 144 reads: “If [one] or more provincial assemblies pass resolutions to the effect that [parliament] may by law regulate any matter not enumerated [the federal legislative list] in the fourth schedule, it shall be lawful for [parliament] to pass an Act for regulating that matter accordingly…”
Balochistan is in process of passing such a resolution, Justice Raza informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice in its previous meeting.
This panel is taking this issue again on Monday (today) as many stakeholders will be giving their inputs and officials of the Ministry of Law will update the lawmakers about the progress, said a senior official of the law ministry. Punjab wants to do its own legislation while Sindh has yet to respond our request, he added.
Read: Legally wed?: Hindu couples still waiting for legal marriage certificate
“We want legislation for all Hindus. If provinces don’t come up with resolutions then the proposed legislation will remain effective only for the ICT,” maintained MNA Kumar, who represents the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. One of the provinces particularly Balochistan will pass the resolution for our cause, he hoped.
The proposed bill will provide a mechanism for registration of Hindu marriage, procedure for dissolution of the marriage and the grounds on the basis of which such marriage can be dissolved. .
The bill also provides the concept of judicial separation, where marriage remains intact and concept of restitution of conjugal rights has been provided.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.
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