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  • 1. How Did This Act Emerge?
  • 2. Why Is It Called ‘Hindu’ Marriage Act If It Includes...
  • 3. How to Register Under Anand Marriage Act?
  • 4. Current Status of Anand Marriage Act
Need for Anand Marriage Act for Sikhs & Why It’s in the News Again

A 109-year-old demand of the Sikhs has finally been met by the Delhi government. For over a hundred years, Sikhs were made to register their marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, as the Anand Marriage Act (for Sikhs) initiated during the British era of 1909, had not been implemented. This had deeply troubled many members of the Sikh community especially those who had moved abroad, as, while they identified as Sikh, their marriages were registered as “Hindu”.

This dissonance could only be resolved by enacting an exclusive marriage act for the community, rather than placing it under the “Hindu” banner. Further, many Sikhs were of the opinion that the fact that religious minorities like Sikhs and Jains were clubbed under the Hindu Marriage Act went against the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution.

So, why are we talking about Anand Marriage Act now? On 17 January 2018, Delhi Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot said that the framing of provisions under the Anand Marriage Act was in its final stage and would be notified soon, giving new hope to many Sikhs.

Sikh marriages will henceforth be registered under the Anand Marriage Act in the national capital, following the notification, the minister claimed, while addressing the press.

  • 1. How Did This Act Emerge?

    The Anand Marriage Act of 1909 was passed by the British Imperial (that is, Governor General) Legislative Council to establish the legal “validity of the marriage ceremony common among the Sikhs called Anand Karaj.” In 2012, the Parliament passed the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill, during the tenure of Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. The Bill, passed in the Budget session that year, had also received the then president Pratibha Patil’s assent. Consequently, Sikhs would be able to register their marriages under the Anand Marriage Act instead of the Hindu Marriage Act.

    Although the Anand Marriage Law was enacted in 1909, there was no provision for registration of marriages and they were registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. “The Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2012, after having received the assent of the President on 7 June 2012, has been published as corresponding Act in the Gazette of India,” a Law Ministry statement had said, as reported by PTI.

    Admitting that it had taken a lot of time to pursue amendments in the Anand Marriage Act, Salman Khurshid said in 2012, as reported by PTI, that this was 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.

    //Supporting the amended bill, Harsimrat Kaur Badal (of Shiromani Akali Dal) had said that Sikhs face problems abroad because while they identify as Sikh, their marriages are registered under the Hindu Marriage Act.//

    According to the amended 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.

    On 12 April 2012, the Union Cabinet approved amendment to the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, to provide for registration of marriages of Sikhs, as per a report by The Hindu.

    In an article dated 20 October 2015 for The Indian Express, Tahir Mahmood, former chair of the National Commission for Minorities, writes that way back in 1998, while he was still chairing the aforementioned committee, he had received a demand from some Sikh leaders for their community’s members to be excluded from the Hindu personal laws of 1955-56. Mahmood told the newspaper:

    “I did my best to convince them that those acts codified family law for four different communities and had been named after the predominant one among them for the sake of brevity.”

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