Islamabad: Pakistani authorities will
consult Indian experts if the government and the Hindu community are unable to reach consensus on the issue of including a provision on divorce in a draft law for registering Hindu marriages, a federal minister has said.
The draft law for registering marriages in the minority
Hindu community has been held up because the government and
Hindu leaders have been unable to overcome differences on the
clause on divorce.
National Harmony Minister Akram Masih Gill, whose
ministry is responsible for the affairs of minority
communities, pointed out that India`s Hindu Marriage Act of
1956 contains a divorce clause.
He said his ministry will consult Indian experts on the
issue if consensus is not reached. 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 reporters.
The clause on divorce in the proposed Hindu Marriage Act
has proved contentious since the bill was drafted in 2008,
with the government differing with Hindu leaders, who believe
divorce is not part of their religion?s culture.
"We will never allow the government to have a divorce
clause in the Hindu Marriage Act... We have no concept of
divorce in our religion," said Pakistan Hindu Council chief
patron Ramesh Kumar.
Kumar, a member of the National Assembly or lower house
of parliament on a reserved seat for non-Muslims, has been
campaigning for the issue for many years.
In 2007, he filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking
its help to resolve the problem.
Hindus are Pakistan`s largest minority but they have
struggled to register their marriages due to chronic delays in
the passage of the act by Parliament.
Pakistan currently has no system for registering
marriages for certain minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs and
Clause 13 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
The draft empowers any court to entertain a petition for
the legal dissolution of a marriage.