Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 17. Taking a U-turn on the issue of a separate Sikh marriage Act, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh today said the amendments being made in the Anand Marriage Act 1909 to facilitate registration of Sikh marriages were “absolutely legitimate”.
Addressing mediapersons to clear the air on the issue today, the Jathedar said the Anand Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 should be passed in Parliament and subsequently implemented at the earliest. He also appreciated the measures taken by various Sikh leaders and organisations for getting the Bill to this stage.
He attributed his support for the amendments in the Act to the fact that “a majority of Sikhs feel that these should be passed in Parliament”. He said an expert panel constituted by the SGPC had also voiced its full support to these amendments. He said all the Sikh leaders should rise above party lines to ensure that these are passed. He said a committee comprising Sikh intellectuals and legal experts would be set up if need of any further amendments was felt in future.
The Jathedar clarified that he had also opposed the proposed move of sending the draft of a complete Sikh marriage Act prepared by Khalsa College principal Dr Daljeet Singh directly to the Prime Minister while contending that any such draft should be routed through the SGPC. He said earlier too, a few drafts of the ‘Sikh Personal Law’ were prepared and if more amendments were needed in future, all these drafts will be utilised suitably. On the issue of divorce, he said the Sikh ‘rehat maryada’ (code of conduct) did not allow divorce, though re-marriage may take place under special circumstances.
Asked whether the Sikh clergy would consider changing ‘rehat maryada’, he said only the “Sarbat Khalsa” could do it. The change in the Jathedar’s stand came after SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar met him in Ludhiana yesterday. The duo later even issued a joint statement supporting the amendments in the Act.
Earlier, the Jathedar had rejected these amendments when he wondered as to how Parliament could pass it without the consent of Sikhs while talking to the media after a seminar organised by Chief Khalsa Diwan on Tuesday.
Though the SGPC and DSGMC took a conflicting stand on the issue, the move was hailed by outfits like Dal Khalsa and American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.