Bangladesh cabinet approves Hindu marriage act

Dhaka: Bangladesh cabinet today approved the draft of a law suggesting introduction of registration for Hindu marriages aimed at protecting rights of followers of the faith and particularly that of women.

"The law will be called Hindu Marriage Registration Act, 2012 allowing following of Hindu faith to get their marriage registered," cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

He said the registration of Hindu marriages would, however, be optional, "not mandatory" as there is no law in the country to register the marriages of Hindus. In the absence of marriage registration, Hindu women are devoid of the rights to prove the marriage or divorce the husband.

The development came a week after Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said a mandatory provision for registration in Hindu marriages is in the offing to ensure rights of the followers of the Hindu faith. "Registration of Hindu marriages is being made mandatory," he told a seminar on rights of Hindu community as stakeholders` opinions regarding the proposed law were already elicited and the matter was also discussed in the parliamentary standing committee on the law.

Ahmed, however, said the government would not formulate any law that would hurt the religious sentiment while the officials familiar with the development said the cabinet, however, preferred not to make it mandatory as the matter was tabled for approval. The minister at that time said despite the principled government decision for enacting immediately the Hindu registration law following Indian example, the follow up legislations for marriage separation and hereditary laws could take a longer period.