Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 22. With both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passing the Anand Marriage Amendment Bill 2012, there is a sense of jubilation among the Sikhs. Talking to The Tribune, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said it is indeed a commendable achievement for which he thanked all the MPs who rose above the party lines to extend their support to the Bill.
He said it will help in establishing separate Sikh identity across the globe. SGPC Chief Avtar Singh Makkar said it is a matter of great happiness as it has been a long-pending demand of Sikhs. He said the move will facilitate registration of Sikh marriages under the Anand Marriage Act. SGPC Secretary Dalmegh Singh also hailed the nod given to the Bill by both the Houses of Parliament.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh, who played a significant role in it, said, “This is a historic day as the separate identity of the Sikhs has been recognized in India for the first time. As per the Act, the Sikhs will now get a Sikh Marriage Certificate. Earlier, they were getting a Hindu Marriage Act certificate. I moved this Bill in the parliament in 2007 and got the approval of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.”
DSGMC Chief Paramjit Singh Sarna said the Bill’s passage in the Rajya Sabha and subsequently in the Lok Sabha exhibits the sincerity of the Congress-led UPA government towards the Sikh issues. He lauded Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who himself participated in the Rajya Sabha proceedings when the Bill was passed. He hoped that the government will soon resolve the other Sikh issues as well.
Former SGPC Secretary Manjeet Singh Calcutta said this is for the first time ever that the Sikhs don’t have to put up a “morcha” or resort to protest to get their demands accepted. He showered praises on former Rajya Sabha member Tarlochan Singh who led the RS members in support of the Bill. He said after the Anand Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 the next aim of Sikhs should be the amendment in Article 25-B of the Indian constitution. “The Sikh intellectuals and well-wishers who are concerned about maintaining separate Sikh identity should start making efforts in this direction after taking the consent of the Akal Takht,” he added.
Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh said though it is a positive step yet a partial relief, as Sikhs need a comprehensive personal law which should address all the issues related to their exclusive identity. He said it was a fact that the amendments made in the Anand Marriage Act-1909 were insufficient and did not fully resolve the identity crisis of the Sikhs. “Sikhs can’t afford to leave the social problem of divorce unaddressed,” he pointed out. He said the only solution to the identity crisis was abrogation of Article 25 (b) (2) of the constitution which clubs Sikhs with Hindus.
Dr Rajwant Singh, President of EcoSikh, has also welcomed the passage of the Bill in Parliament.
In Delhi, Tarlochan Singh, former chairman of the National Minorities Commission, welcomed the amendment to the Anand Marriage Act. “I had moved a private members Bill in 2007 which was approved by the standing committee of Parliament,” he said.
Tarlochan termed it as ‘historic day’ saying a separate identity for Sikhs has been recognised for the first time and thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Salmaan Khurshid.
Delhi Sikh Gurdawara Management Committee chief Parmjit Singh Sarna thanked UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi saying the nod to the Bill shows the seriousness of the UPA towards issues of the Sikhs.
Journey of the Bill
- The Bill was moved in the Rajya Sabha as a private member’s Bill by MP Tarlochan Singh in June 2007
- It aimed at amending the 1909 Act to provide for separate registration of Sikh marriages
- On August 29, 2011, the Centre decided to drop the proposal saying such a step will lead to similar demands from other communities
- On April 12, 2012, the Cabinet cleared the Bill to amend Anand Karaj Act 1909
- The Bill was introduced in the Parliament on May 7
- The Rajya Sabha passed it on Monday and the Lok Sabha passed it on Tuesday in record time