Hindu community being deprived of its fundamental right of documentation of marriages, says body
ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) Tuesday urged the Punjab government to take immediate and substantial steps for the implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act 2017.
According to a statement issued by the NCHR, the commission penned a letter to the Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman, calling for immediate notification of Hindu Marriage Registrars, potentially secretaries of Union Councils.
“The NCHR Regional Office Lahore is actively engaged with the Chief Secretary’s Office, and a follow-up hearing by Nadeem Ashraf, Member (Punjab), NCHR, is scheduled for the last week of January 2024,” NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha said.
The act regulates the registration of marriage and divorce in the minority community. Though being a law, the act is also applicable in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Punjab, read the statement.
“However, it has been observed that the said law was not being implemented and as a consequence, Hindu community was being deprived of their fundamental right of documentation of their marriages, divorces, and issuance of child registration certificate.”
The commission called for the provision of one of the basic rights to the Hindu community by implementing the act starting with the formulation of pending rules such as notification of Hindu Marriage Registrars.
“In light of the ambiguity surrounding the Administrative Department responsible for implementing the Hindu Marriage Act, 2017, notices were issued to the secretary local government and community development department.”
“Following that, the matter was taken up to the chief secretary level for the provision of basic rights to the Hindu Community urged the Punjab government to immediately notify Hindu Marriage Registrars, potentially secretaries of Union Councils.”
The NCHR study identifies that the hindrance in effective implementation of the act is multi-layered. The bureaucratic processes, marred by lethargy, stand as a significant impediment, causing delays and inefficiencies in the execution of the law. Compounding this issue is a pervasive lack of awareness amongst all stakeholders.
The NCHR chairperson said that the path forward requires a comprehensive strategy to bridge the gap between legislative intent and implementation of the act.
“Streamlining bureaucratic processes and establishing efficient registration mechanisms are imperative for ensuring a smooth and effective application of the law.”
“Simultaneously, launching comprehensive awareness campaigns and sensitization training for officials involved in the registration process is essential in addition to collaborating with civil society organizations to further reinforces accountability and strengthens advocacy for the protection of minority rights,” she added.