Islamabad: A proposed law on Hindu marriages had been held up as it "bounced back and forth between different official bodies", said a leading Pakistani daily Monday. An editorial in the Dawn observed that though the current National Assembly has passed some important laws during its tenure, its performance has remained tardy in other areas where legislation is direly needed.
As many as 176 private members' bills are pending approval, with some dating back to 2008. Considering that the life of the Assembly is limited, it is unlikely they will be passed into law, said the daily, adding that all laws are important, yet some of the pending bills concern long-standing issues that require immediate attention.
"These include a law relating to the legal status of Hindu marriages in Pakistan. Some minority activists say the Hindus Marriage Bill 2011 has been held up as it was introduced without consulting stakeholders. There are also indications that some members of the Hindu clergy have issues with certain clauses of the bill.
"The proposed law has also bounced back and forth between different official bodies, perhaps a victim of the legal confusion that has prevailed following devolution. For example there is considerable debate over whether the centre can legislate on Hindu marriages, or if such matters now purely fall within the provincial domain," the editorial added.
It said homework should have been done and consensus achieved before tabling the law, which has already been delayed for too long. "Due to the lack of a marriage registration mechanism Hindu women in particular face multiple issues. These include problems with accessing state benefits as well as making it easier, as minority activists claim, for Hindu women to be abducted, forcibly converted and married," it added.
The daily regretted that "both the state and the minorities' elected representatives have failed to legislate on this key issue. We hope the law is passed soon to give Hindu marriages legal sanction and all the benefits that go with it."