M A I N   N E W S

Centre to reassess its stand on Anand Marriage Act issue
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, September 13
Amid hectic lobbying by the political tribe of Punjab, which is united in its demand for registration of Sikh marriages under the existing Anand Marriage Act, 1909, the Centre is working to reconsider its stand of entirely dropping the proposal.

Law Minister Salman Khursheed has called for a comprehensive report on the history of the Anand Marriage issue, including all representations ever made to the government on the matter and the legislative proposals submitted in this respect.

“I am trying to understand why for so long the issue kept coming up and dying down. I have asked my ministry to give me a comprehensive note on the matter, its history, the representations, draft Bill for the suggested amendment and related submissions. We will take it from there,” Khursheed told The Tribune.

He had yesterday assured the visiting former Punjab Chief Minister and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Amarinder Singh of positive movement in the matter. The PPCC in a press statement today said Khursheed had assured the visiting state Congress delegation that “necessary measures had been initiated and the process would be completed very soon.”

The minister had earlier extended similar assurances to Akali and Congress MPs who had met him over the issue, which has snowballed into a political controversy since The Tribune reported a fortnight ago that the Centre had decided to drop the amendment proposal.

So far as the issue goes, it is rooted in the problems which over 50 lakh Sikh NRIs and over two crore Sikhs face during migration abroad and generally in respect of wedding registrations. While their marriage certificates describe them as Hindus, they claim to represent a sovereign Sikh religion. “The Anand Marriage Amendment Act simply seeks to end this confusion by incorporation of a provision that allows the registration of Sikhs marriages performed as per Anand Karaj rites. Any religion that claims sovereignty must have its own ceremonies of birth, marriage and death,” senior Supreme Court advocate HS Phoolka explained.

At present, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains register marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Followers of these religions are even governed by Hindu Personal Laws like the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956; the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, and the Hindu Succession Act.

Christians, Parsis and Muslims on the other hand have their separate laws, namely Christian Marriage Act, 1872; Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936; and the Mohammaden Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1876. The latter allows optional registration of marriages.

The Sikhs for their part have always sought a separate law to register marriages but their demand got bolstered in 2006 when the apex court directed state governments to mandatorily register marriages. It was then that MP Tarlochan Singh moved in the Rajya Sabha a proposal to amend the Anand Marriage Act to allow for registration of Sikh marriages.

The proposal was unanimously recommended by the Parliamentary Committee on Law on December 4, 2007, after the then Law Secretary KN Chaturvedi told the panel (The Tribune has minutes of the said meeting) that the government had no problems with amending the Anand Karaj Act nor had it received any objection from any other community in this respect. Subsequently, two Law Ministers HR Bhardwaj and Veerappa Moily assured Sikhs of a Bill to this effect.

After Khursheed’s reverse stand, the community again finds itself on the edge and demands are resurfacing to amend Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees the Right to Religion.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |