With the initiation of the inclusion of the registration clause in the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012, the move came as a breakthrough in terms of respect provided to the different community existing in the country, providing them with a separate identity and upholding the constitutional provisions and fundamental rights, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Indian Constitution, which are as follows:
“Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right—
(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
(d) to administer such property in accordance with law.”
The revolutionary move by the Parliament has only been supported by the state governments, who have only taken it upon themselves to bolster the ongoing process of recognising the legal and marital registration rights of the Sikhs. A few of these moves may be listed as follows:
A 110-year-old demand of the Sikhs had finally been met by the Delhi government when they enacted The Delhi Anand Marriage Registration Rules, 2018, wherein Sikhs in Delhi would be mandated to register their marriages under this Act. The Sikhs, whose marriages have been registered under this Act, are not required to get these registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
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.
The Punjab Anand Marriages Registration Rules, 2016 were declared by the Punjab government in pursuance to the 2006 legislation and 2012 Amendment to the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012, for the purpose of registration of Anand Marriages in Punjab. 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.
Following the Delhi government’s most recent move in enacting a separate legislation for the registration of Sikh marriages, the community in Mumbai has also cited demands, citing uniformity, recognition as valid grounds as well as citing violation of Article 25 (B) of the Indian Constitution, wherein many communities are construed as Hindus, namely Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists etc, which is not the case. However, there has been no further development to the demand.
Freedom of Religion has been enshrined as a Fundamental Right according to our Indian Constitution, provided under Articles 25-28. Article 25 states the following:
“(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law-
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.”
However, the meaning of such detailed provisions can only be upheld if the separate recognition and distinction between varying religions is made, instead of collusion for simplicity which may create communal conflicts. With Punjab being the torch-bearer and continuing state to the Parliament’s rectifying amendment, it has been the states showing more activism towards providing the Sikh community a respectable, differentiable identity.
However, there seem to be no signs of amending the original Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and its clauses, which stand in contravention with the recently enacted separate legislations, leading to confusion and the question of necessity arises- do we need separate laws or an amendment would suffice? Or both?
After conducting the research, a few inferences can be made in order to come to a long-term resolution:
- An amendment to the original legislation, wherein the word ‘Sikhs’ can be removed from Article 2 (1) (b), which would be able to provide justification to the enactment of separate legislations.
- Widening the ambit of Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012, thereby making it applicable over all states and making registration under this Act by Sikhs, and only Sikhs, obligatory, and no other. This would remove multiplicity of laws and enable governments to concentrate on other important matters.
- Removal of state legislations post enactment of central legislation to reduce confusion and conflict.
It is in the interest of the Judiciary as well Legislature if the Central government takes up the onus of making these changes in order to simplify, reduce contradictions and receive demands well.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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