ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has called upon the Punjab government to promptly and decisively implement the Hindu Marriage Act of 2017. In a letter from NCHR Member Punjab, Nadeem Ashraf, to Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman, the commission emphasized the urgent need for the notification of Hindu marriage registrars, possibly secretaries of union councils.
NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha, in a statement, revealed that the NCHR Regional Office Lahore is actively collaborating with the Chief Secretary’s Office. A follow-up hearing by Nadeem Ashraf is scheduled for the last week of January 2024.
The Hindu Marriage Act of 2017 governs the registration of Hindu marriages and divorces. Despite being a federal law, it is applicable in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab. The NCHR highlighted in its letter that the law was not effectively enforced, depriving the Hindu community of their fundamental right to document marriages, divorces, and issue child registration certificates.
The letter urged the personal intervention of the Punjab chief secretary to ensure the basic rights of the Hindu community by kickstarting the implementation of the act, beginning with the formulation of pending rules, including the notification of Hindu marriage registrars.
Responding to numerous complaints and recognizing the urgency of the issue, the NCHR Punjab Office directed the representative of the human rights and minority affairs department to compile comprehensive details and submit a report within a week.
The NCHR study identified several obstacles to the effective implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, including bureaucratic processes marked by lethargy, lack of awareness among stakeholders, insufficient allocated resources, and societal biases within the system. NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy to bridge the gap between legislative intent and the act’s implementation.
She emphasized the importance of streamlining bureaucratic processes, establishing efficient registration mechanisms, launching awareness campaigns, providing sensitization training for officials involved in the registration process, and collaborating with civil society organizations to reinforce accountability and advocate for the protection of minority rights.
Acknowledgement: The news was originally reported by Daily Dawn on 17 Jan 2024