Sikhs are not Hindus, allow registration of marriage under Anand Marriage Act

A Sikh couple has moved Bombay high court for protection of their cultural rights and for directions to the state government to frame and notify rules under the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 so that they can register their marriage under it

sikh marriage act

Despite having a separate law to enable registration of Sikh marriages, couples are compelled to register marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act. Is this not a violation of fundamental/legal rights of the petitioners to force them to register their marriage under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the petition queries. 

File in the Bombay High Court, the petition states that, 
“The Sikhs in Maharashtra, despite having a separate legislation for registration of their marriages under Anand Marriage Act, 1909 are forced to register marriage under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Is it not a violation of fundamental/legal rights of the petitioners to force them to register their marriage under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?”questioned the petitioners’ lawyers Satvinder Kaur and Amritpal Singh Khalsa. The couple married on October 24, 2021 by performing Anand Karaj at a gurdwara in Aurangabad. “ 

The origin of Anand Karaj marriage goes back to the early days of Sikhism. The ceremony is simple and inexpensive. Such marriages are performed by taking four lavans/phere around the Shri Guru Granth Sahib, in the presence of a Granthi and recitation of the Lavan Gurbani and concluded by Ardass ceremony,” the petition informs. 

Times of India reports that the plea that will now be mentioned before a bench led by Justice Sanjay Gangapurwala for a hearing date on September 28, states that the non-registration of Sikh marriages in Maharashtra under the Act is “adversely affecting couples” professing Sikh religion by infringing on their rights to equality, life and to conserve culture and also their freedom to profess and practice religion.
In a detailed background, the petition states that the Anand Marriage Act was enacted in 1909 and was specifically amended by Parliament in 2012 during the tenure of the UPA II government. This amendment, 103 years after the law was first enacted, added section 6 which made it mandatory for states to frame their respective rules to implement the Act. Then union law minister, Salman Khurshid had said, this was not just a symbolic gesture and “we should respect the sentiments of all communities …whether Bodos or any other group.” Sikh groups have maintained that members of the community face problems abroad as their certificates are issued under the Hindu Marriage Act. Besides Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are issued certificates under the Hindu laws.

The petition states that Section 6 requires rules to be framed to register Anand marriages and the state government is duty bound to do so. Incidentally, while such rules have been framed in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, MP, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal and Delhi, Maharashtra lags behind.’ “The state of Maharashtra for the past ten years has failed to notify the rules,” the petition laments. On September 1, the petitioners have written to the State chief secretary to implement the Act.

Supporting the bill during its passage in Parliament in 2012, Harsimrat Kaur (Shiromani Akali Dal-SAD) had said Sikhs face problems abroad because while they identify themselves as Sikhs, their marriages are registered under the Hindu Marriage Act. She had even thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for approving the amendments in a recent Cabinet meeting. P S Bajwa (Cong) said it was necessary to make it clear that the Act was never repealed as claimed by some writers in the recent past. Several other members cutting across party lines supported the Bill. Although the Anand Marriage law was enacted in 1909, there was no provision for registration of marriages which were required to be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Admitting that it had taken a lot of time to pursue amendments in the Anand Marriage Act, the amendment addressed “the long standing need” to register Anand marriages, by allowing Sikhs the option to register their marriages under the Act.
Sikh marriage ceremonies are known as ‘Anand Karaj’ (blissful event). According to the amendment bill, couples whose marriages have been registered under this Act, will not be required to get their marriage registered under the Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths Act, 1969 or any other law for the time being in force.



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