Pakistan’s Senate will discuss a controversial clause in the landmark Hindu Marriage Bill that calls for annulment of a marriage if any of the spouses converts to another religion, after unanimously passing the law recently.
The National Assembly committee on law and justice last week approved the draft law on Hindu marriages, paving the way for registering marriages in the minuscule religious minority of Pakistan following decades of delay and inaction.
Chairperson of standing committee on law and justice Senator Nasreen Jalil has called a meeting of the committee this week to take up the matter.
The Hindu Marriage Bill clause 12(iii) says, a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses converts to another religion.
Jalil said some opposed the clause others supported it. There needs to be a consensus among the committee members.
“If there is a consensus on deletion of the clause the committee will forward its recommendations to the speaker of National Assembly,” Dawn Newspaper quoted her as saying.
On the other hand, National Assembly standing committee has witnessed serious opposition to the deletion of the clause by Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani, the JUI-F parliamentarian and chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).
PPP’s Shugufta Jumani and Ali Mohammad of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said if any of the spouses converted to Islam, the marriage should be terminated.
PPP Senator Taj Haider said “I do not understand how the marriage will be annulled if any of the partners converts to Islam. The clause will also discourage cross-marriages”.
Ruling PML-N member Ramesh Kumar Vankwani who is also patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said the matter is related to the basic human rights of Pakistani Hindus.
“There are fears the clause would be misused for forced conversions of married women the same way young girls are being subjected to forced conversions,” he said.
He also referred to the current practice by elements who kidnapped teenage girls and eventually presented them in courts along with a certificate that the girl had married after converting to Islam.