Separate Law For Sikh Marriages Cleared By Centre


NEW DELHI – In what will fulfil one of the long-pending demands of the Sikh community, the Union Home Ministry has given its nod to the Anand Marriage Bill, also known as the Anand Karaj Bill. This will allow Sikhs to get their marriages registered under the separate law.

The next step will be the passing of the Bill in Parliament. Some fine tuning of the same is being done and it could be tabled in Parliament next week in case the Union Cabinet meets before that. The Bill was not discussed at today’s meeting of the Cabinet. The ruling combine does not see any problem in getting the Bill passed, if it is tabled in Parliament.

At present, the Sikhs have to get their marriages registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, while Parsis, Christians and Muslims have separate laws for the registration of their marriages. During British times, the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, was promulgated. However, it was not adopted at the time of framing of the Constitution of independent India.

There were protests by political parties of Punjab during the monsoon session of Parliament after the government announced that it did not favour amendment to the Anand Karaj Act for the registration of Sikh marriages.

Earlier, a Parliamentary standing committee had unanimously approved the necessary amendment, but the Centre had vetoed the Sikh community’s demand on the plea that this could lead to similar demands from other communities covered under the Hindu Marriage Act.

The government was, however, forced to reverse its earlier position as it realised that it could snowball into a political controversy and provide a potent issue to rival Akalis in the forthcoming Punjab elections.

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had recently taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.