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More than five years after it was passed, authorities in Islamabad have issued the guidelines for the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, allowing the members of the minority Hindu community to solemnise their marriage in accordance with established customs. It took 75 years for the country to take this decision.

Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan would also be able to execute the marriage laws approved in 2017 according to the regulation named ‘Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Hindu Marriage Regulations 2023.’ According to a representative of the ICT administration, all union councils (UC) in the federal area have received the notification for implementation.

Under the guidelines, the appropriate UCs in Islamabad will register a ‘Maharaj’ to perform marriage ceremonies. To qualify as a ‘Pundit’ or ‘Maharaj,’ a person must be a Hindu male with a sufficient understanding of Hinduism. The local police must provide a character reference along with the written consent of at least ten Hindu community members before the appointment of ‘Maharaj.’ 

The appropriate UCs will issue a ‘Shaadi Pert’ (marriage certificate) to a ‘Maharaj’ who would be registered with the relevant UC, much like the ‘registered nikah-khawan’ for Muslims. All marriages would be registered at union councils as well.

The one who drafted the rules, Mehfooz Piracha, who is also the district attorney for ICT, remarked that the announcement is a significant step towards protecting the rights of the minority community. He added that Punjab, Balochistan, and KP can now implement similar laws as well.

He claimed, “Politically and technically, it is easy for provinces to adopt the laws enacted in Islamabad rather than formulating new legislation for each jurisdiction.”

An organisation named the ‘National Lobbying Delegation for Minority Rights’ (NLD) has made the key effort to get Hindu marriage laws approved. According to NLD member Jai Parkash, the ICT administration must retroactively execute this regulation in order to help the community as there are a lot of Hindus who have made Islamabad their residence.

Notably, the Hindu population of Islamabad has increased dramatically over the past ten years as a result of emigration from Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to security concerns.