A landmark Hindu marriage bill to regulate marriages of the minority community has been passed by the lower house of Pakistan's Parliament and will now be sent to the president for his assent.
The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 is the first personal law to regulate the weddings of Pakistan's Hindus and it will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage, which is needed for applying for passports and other official documents.
The bill was passed by the Senate or upper house of Parliament after some changes last month. It was originally passed by the National Assembly last September, but it had to be approved again by the lower house because of changes made by the Senate.
The National Assembly approved the amendments on Thursday after the bill was presented by human rights minister Kamran Michael. It will now be sent to the president for his signature.
The bill will be applicable in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. Southern Sindh province, which is home to a majority of Pakistan's Hindus, has already enacted its own Hindu marriage law.
Michael said the human rights ministry took the lead to protect the rights of minorities and acted to process the bill after obtaining a "No Objection Certificate" from the religious affairs and interfaith harmony ministry.
"There was no law to

regulate the registration of Hindu marriages and ancillary matters thereto," he said. The PML-N government is committed to protecting human rights, including the rights of women and minorities, Michael added.
The bill was finalised after numerous rounds of consultations between several ministries and representatives of the Hindu minority over the past three years.
The bill will help prevent the marriage of minors as a minimum age of 18 has been set for weddings. It also protects the customs and customary rites of Hindus.
The bill paves the way for a document called the 'Shadi Parat', containing particulars of the bride and groom, that will be registered with the relevant government department.
For the first time in Pakistan's history, the bill provides a mechanism for registering Hindu marriages, conditions for contracting a marriage, and the procedure and grounds for dissolving a marriage.
It also provides the concept of judicial separation, where the marriage remains intact while the parties are no longer under an obligation to cohabit. The legitimacy of children born out of voidable Hindu marriages has also been protected.
The human rights ministry also obtained resolutions from provincial governments to regulate Hindu marriages under one law that will be applicable to the whole country.

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