ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain Sunday signed “The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017” into law, providing for the regulation of Hindu marriages in the country. The President signed the bill on the advice of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that had earlier been passed by both the Senate and the National Assembly. After the presidential assent, the bill has now been enacted as law of the land, aiming at protecting the marriage, the family, the mother, and child and also to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Hindu families, according to a PM House statement. It is a consolidated law for solemnization of marriages by Hindu families, residing in Pakistan. According to the statement, the Prime Minister has said that his government had always focused on provision of equal rights to minority communities, residing in Pakistan. “They are as patriotic as any other community and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to provide equal protection to them,” he said. Through this bill, Hindu families would be able to solemnize marriages in accordance with their customary rites, rituals and ceremonies, he added. He said the government would appoint marriage registrars in areas convenient for the Hindu population for registration of their marriages. This law also provides for procedures relating to restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, void and voidable marriages, termination of Hindu marriage, financial security of wife and children, alternative relief in termination of marriage and termination of marriage by mutual consent. Moreover, this law also provides the right of separated person to marry again, entitlement of re-marriage by a Hindu widow at her own will and consent after stipulated time, legitimacy of child born, out of void and voidable Hindu marriage. Under this law, Hindu marriages solemnized before commencement of this law would be deemed valid and petitions under this law would be presented to the family courts. The law also provides for punishments of imprisonment and fines up to Rs 100,000 or both for contraventions. All offences under this law would be non-cognizable and non-compoundable and would be triable by Court of First Class Magistrate. On March 10, the National Assembly unanimously passed the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2016 by endorsing amendments made by the Senate in February. A day earlier, the bill was moved by Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael.Michael said the Ministry of Human Rights took the initiative to protect the rights of minorities in the country after obtaining a no objection certificate from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The senator added that it was a constitutional obligation to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities. “There was no law to regulate the registration of Hindu marriages and ancillary matters thereto,” said Michael. He added the government was committed to protect and promote human rights, including the rights of women and minorities. The legislation was finalised after numerous consultations with the relevant ministries and representatives of the Hindu community.