Tarlochan writes protest letter to Law Minister
Aditi Tandon, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 4. After wrangling with the Centre for years over their demand for changes to the Anand Marriage Act to allow for compulsory registration of Sikh marriages, the community leaders today hit back at the UPA Government for yet another attempt to ignore their aspirations.
Rejecting the law Ministry’s new proposal to amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1969, to include marriage registration without the requirement of listing religions, Tarlochan Singh, former chairperson, National Minorities Commission, today said the move was unacceptable to the Sikhs who had long awaited a separate marriage registration law to cement their identity at home and abroad.
In a protest letter to Law Minister Salman Khursheed, whose ministry is said to be finalising the proposed amendment to the Birth and Death Registration law to allow couples an option of registering religion neutral marriages, Tarlochan Singh said: “All Sikh MPs have made an appeal to the government to amend the Anand Marriage Act to allow for registration of Sikh marriages currently registered under the Hindu Marriage Act.
“Your new proposal will not give any help to five million Sikh NRIs who are facing threats to their identity abroad. If their marriage certificates don’t conform to their religious beliefs or reflect their Sikh identity, how will they get justice from the foreign governments?”
The Centre seems to be reverting to the position Khursheed articulated in a written reply to a related question in the Rajya Sabha on August 30, 2011.
At that time, conveying the Centre’s decision to drop the Sikhs’ demand for amendments to the Anand Karaj Act, the Law
Minister had said: “Since the scope of the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 is limited to marriage ceremonies amongst “anands”, the registration of all forms of Sikh marriages is not within its scope. Further, there may not be any justification for secluding Sikhs from Hindus, Jains and Buddhists as such a step would invite similar demands from these religious denominations covered under the Hindu Marriage Act.
“Also, seclusion of one community is against the directive principles contained in Article 44 of the Constitution which aims at bringing in a uniform civil code.”
Sikhs have been seeking changes to the Anand Karaj Act to include a clause for the registration of their marriages. Similar Acts exist to allow for separate registration of marriages in case of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews.
“As per the Centre’s new proposal, marriages would be registered without mentioning the religion of the couple. But this will never satisfy the aspirations of Sikh minority which has been getting assurances for the last several years that a registration clause would be added to the Anand Marriage Act,” Tarlochan Singh wrote to the Law Minister today.
He told TNS that the Sikhs would launch a stir if their demands were not met.