The demand of Sikhs for a separate law regarding the registration of the Sikh marriage is not unheard of. It has been going on for over a century with the members of the Sikh community made to register their marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. There were no other means for them, although the Anand Marriage Act was introduced by the Britishers in 1909 it was not executed.
This problem had extremely bothered the many members of the Sikh community especially to those who have moved overseas as they were recognized as Sikhs, but their marriages were registered under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as “Hindu”. But later on, there was an amendment in Anand Marriage Act, 2012 which was passed by President Pratibha Patil giving her sanction to a bill passed by parliament in which Sikh was able to register their marriage under the Anand Marriage Act, 2012.
In 1909, the Anand Marriage Act was passed by the British Governor General to establish the legal validity of marriage ceremony among Sikhs called Anand Karaj. The term Anand Karaj means “a blissful event or joyful union”. As the Act of 1909 didn’t have any provisions of registration of marriage, the Sikhs were to register their marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Features of Anand Marriage Act, 1909
- All marriages which may be or may have been duly solemnized according to the Sikh Marriage ceremony called Anand shall be and shall be deemed to have been with effect from the date of the solemnization of each respectively, good and valid in law.
- Exemption of certain marriages from Act:
(a) any marriage between persons not professing the Sikh religion, or
(b) any marriage which has been judicially declared to be null and void.
Solemnization of Anand Karaj:
- A Sikh male and a Sikh female may contract marriage by Sikh religion if the parties to the marriage:
(a). are of sound mind and not below the age of 18 years
(b). enter into a marriage contract with free and full consent
(c). are not related to each other in any degree of consanguinity or affinity which, according to the customary law of Sikhs, renders the marriage between them unlawful
Registration of marriage under the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012
- No party to the marriage should have a partner living at the time of marriage;
- Both the parties to the marriage-
(a)should be able to give free and valid consent, should be mentally fit and not of an unsound mind; or
(b) No party should be suffering from any mental disorder or mental illness thereby affecting their ability to give valid consent for the marriage and procreation of children or
(c) No party should be suffering from persistent bouts of insanity;
(d) The bridegroom should have completed the age of twenty – one and the bride should have completed the age of eighteen years at the time of marriage;
(e) The parties to the marriage should not be related to each other and should not come under the degrees of prohibited relationship unless otherwise allowed under the rituals or customs which governs each of them which allows for such a marriage between both of them.
Documentation for Registration
- Completed application form signed by the parties to the marriage.
- Documentary evidence of the date of birth of both parties, such as a passport, pan card, driving license etc.
- An affidavit provided by both parties specifying the date, location and time of marriage. It should also contain information about the marital status and nationality of both parties.
- Two passport size photographs of both the parties and one marriage photograph and marriage invite
- All Sikh marriages performed before or after the onset of the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012, are to be recorded in the Marriage Register maintained by an officer of the State Government or of a local authority authorized by the State Government,
- The Marriage Register would be open on all working hours for the examination of the records by the parties to the marriage, and the use of such information as proof for future purposes. To obtain certain information contained in the register by the parties, an application has to be made to the Registrar with the appropriate fees attached. The Registrar on receiving the application would issue the information required to the parties concerned,
- If any marriage has been performed by the ‘Anand Karaj’, but not recorded in the Marriage Register. Such a marriage would still be valid,
- Registration or recording of a marriage in the register under the act saves the parties the obligation of getting their marriage registered under some other law enforced at that time, including the State Act.
Punjab Compulsory Marriage Registration Act, 2012
On December 21, 2012, the Punjab Legislative Assembly recently approved the Punjab Compulsory Registration of Marriage. Punjab was the first state of the country to create marriages of Non-resident Indian and foreign citizens also obligatory in Punjab. In 2006, the Supreme Court in Seema v. Ashwani Kumar issued a command to all to make registration of marriage compulsory in all States by enacting legislation. In Punjab now any marriage solemnized should be compulsorily registered, even the marriages which were celebrated outside Punjab can be registered at the place where parties have a momentary residence in Punjab.
The Punjab Anand Marriages Registration Rules, 2016
The Punjab Anand Marriages Registration Rules, 2016 were declared by the government and to register Anand marriage, Registrar (also known as Tehsildar or a Naib Tehsildar) or Sub Divisional Officer under whose jurisdiction such marriage solemnized are compulsory to be presented at the venue. Rules and regulations of Anand marriage in case of Foreign National (FN), Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), Non-resident Indian (NRI) must be checked priorly.
The Delhi government in February 2018 notified ‘The Delhi Anand Marriages Rules 2018’ under which marriages of Sikhs would be registered in the Capital, instead of the Hindu Marriage Act.
(This article was submitted by Ayushi Garg of Rayat Bahra University as a part of B&b Associates’ internship program.)