Implementation of Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018 proves a milestone

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Provincial Minister for Minorities Ramesh Singh Arora / Pradhan PSGPC chaired an important meeting at committee room of HR&MA department in which the topic of Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018 was discussed in detail. Members of PSGPC, Head Grantees from Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and Peshawar besides MPA Sania Ashir, MPA Baba Philbos and Deputy Secretary Minority Affairs Ayesha Yasin specially participated in the meeting.

In the meeting, various proposals regarding the establishment of reconciliation council and appointment of marriage registrar and other issues were presented. While giving a detailed briefing on the Act, Research Officer Shoaib Zafar told the participants that necessary amendments can be made in it now, but its draft has been completed in all respects so that no problem can arise in the future. In the meeting It was agreed that the UC chairman should be selected from the bride’s council, the Sikh boy and girl should be at least 18 years of age, while it was decided that a five-member Sangat would make recommendations on any issue between the bride and groom. It was further decided that the couple seeking divorce shall be bound to send a written notice to the Chairman, but both parties shall be required to provide a copy and within 30 days of receiving the notice, the Chairman shall constitute a conciliation committee, if the couple fails within 90 days or If they still fail to reconcile, a certificate will be issued. Addressing the meeting, Provincial Minister Ramesh Singh Arora said that Punjab will become the first province to implement the Sikh Marriage Act and it is hoped that other provinces will follow same.

He said that the draft of the Act was presented in the Assembly himself in October 2017 while the Sikh Marriage Act was passed by the Punjab Assembly in March 2018 on behalf of the Muslim League (N). The Muslim League (N) government completed its constitutional term in May 2018, but due to political and other reasons, the implementation of the Act was not possible till date. Due to non-registration of marriages, several legal issues arise, including distribution of inherited assets. Ramesh Singh added that the Act would have to be implemented after approval by the provincial cabinet, while under the Act, Sikh couples would be able to legally register their marriages and would be allowed to file for divorce along with registration. Ramesh Arora said that if a couple decides to separate, there is no legal procedure available, but various gurdwaras in Punjab will be registered to conduct marriages of Sikh couples and those under the age of 18 will not be able to tie the knot while the marriage will take place according to the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture of Sikhism. Ramesh Singh clarified that the couple will fill the Anand Karaj form and submit it to the authorized registrar within 30 days of their marriage. The Anand Karaj Registrar or Union Council offices will keep a record of all marriages, but by making necessary amendments to the Act, It should be approved by the cabinet soon. At the end of the meeting, all the members conveyed their consent to the provincial minister and vowed that this would be an important milestone for the Sikh community.

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