By Naeem Ashraf Butt
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday adopted a landmark bill to regulate marriages of the minority Sikh community living in the province.
The bill called “The Punjab Anand Karaj Act 2017” was tabled by MPA Ramesh Singh Arora.
Pakistan has become the first country in the world to introduce legislation for the registration of Sikh marriages.
"Anand Karaj: means the lawful union of a Sikh male and female solemnized under the Act and conducted in accordance with the practices of the Sikh religion, as permitted in the Guru Granth Sahib."
The new bill has set the minimum age for Sikh marriages for both male and female at 18 years. Every marriage between Sikhs shall be registered under the Act. For the purpose of the registration of marriages under the Act, the government, in the prescribed manner, shall grant license to one or more persons professing Sikh religion to be called Anand Karaj Registrar, authorizing him to grant Anand Karaj Certificate.
The bridegroom and the bride or a Granthi shall fill the Anand Karaj form and present it, within thirty days of the marriage, to the Anand Karaj Registrar for registration of the marriage and a copy thereof shall be sent to the chairman.
A marriage, which is not solemnized by the Anand Karaj Registrar, shall, for the purpose of registration under the Act, be reported within thirty days of the solemnization of the marriage to him (chairman) by the Granthi or the person who solemnized the marriage.
The violators, according to the bill, will be punished and fined which may extend to ten thousand rupees.
Sikh leaders hail the bill
“In India, Sikh marriages are registered under the Hindu Marriage Act. Pakistan is the only country in the world where a separate Sikh marriage bill has been formally promulgated,” MPA Ramesh Singh said.
“The bill is the result of Sikh-Punjabi brotherhood,” Sardar Gopal Singh, General Secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), told SAMAA.