Sikh Marriage Act set to become law in Punjab, Pakistan

MPA Ramesh Singh Arora, the only Sikh lawmaker in the Punjab state assembly, introduces Punjab Anand Karaj Bill 2017

MPA Ramesh Singh Arora introducing the Sikh Marriage Bill 2017 in the Punjab Assembly

Sikhs in Punjab, Pakistan, will soon be able to solemnise and register Anand Karaj marriages under the soon-to-passed Sikh Marriage Act 2017.

Ramesh Singh Arora, the first and only Sikh lawmaker in the Punjab state assembly, introduced the Punjab Anand Karaj Bill 2017 at its recent sitting, a move that did not see any objections.

“It will take about two months for the assembly to pass the Bill,” he told Asia Samachar in a text message.

When asked if Sikhs could see such a legislation at the national level, he replied: “This is the first step…I will then try to pass it in the National Assembly.”

On 19 March 2017, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain gave his approval to the Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 on the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, turning it into law.

The Sikh marriage proposed legislatio is meant to provide for the solemnisation and registration of Anand Karaj in the province of Punjab.

The bill noted that it was ‘expedient to remove any doubts as to the validity of the marriage ceremony among the Sikhs, commonly known as called Anand Karaj.’

In the bill, “Anand Karaj” means the lawful union of a Sikh male and Sikh female solemnised under the Act and conducted in accordance with the practices of the Sikh religion, as permitted in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The bill also empowers women and children to claim their right in inheritance, according to a Pakistan newspaper.

Ramesh lauded the government and thanked Nawaz Sharif, CM Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Ahsen Iqbal, Provincial Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan for extending cooperation to the Bill responding to the demand of the Sikh community of the country, reports The News.

Ramesh told the newspaper that once again it had been proven that Pakistan was the most secure country for the minorities, adding that nowhere else and even in the country like India where Sikh population was over 20 million, it could register its marriages as a community, and have to merge with Hindus under the law, thus losing their individual identity.

In Pakistan, where the volume of Sikh population is much lesser than those living in India, this right has been granted to them to register their marriage which would enable the women, children to claim their rights in inheritance as per law, he told the newspaper.

He added that he was thankful to the Opposition MPAs who did not oppose it.

Ramesh was elected Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) of Punjab in 2013 general elections from one of the seats reserved for non-Muslims. He chairs the assembly’s Standing Committee on Commerce & Investment.

MPA Ramesh Singh Arora with the proposed Sikh Marriage Act 2017 before stepping into the Punjab state assembly

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