Sikh Marriage Act: Punjab annoyed over centre's decision

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Amritsar, Aug 31: The Central government's decision to reject the proposal for a separate Sikh Marriage Act has come under tremendous criticism from various political as well as religious bodies in Punjab. On Tuesday, August 30 the Akal Takht Jathedar, a religious organisation urged Sikhs to give pressure on UPA to hold back the decision, while Shiromani Akali Dal (B) slammed the centre for "anti-sikh posture".

Meanwhile, the close rivals of SAD (B) like Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Sikh radical organisations have extended their support over the issue. "I think law minister Salman Khurshid is not aware about separate Sikh identity. Even in Pakistan, Sikhs enjoys separate Anand Karaj (Marriage) Act and the same right has been denied here," said Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh.

SAD MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa told former law minister Veerappa Moily had intimated him that the draft bill for Sikh Marriage Act was ready and would be sent for cabinet approval.

The dropping of the proposal by centre was pointed out by present law minister Salman Khurshid on Monday, August 29 in parliament on replying to a query by Dhindsa on the status of the act.

Expressing surprise at the Centre's U-turn, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said the UPA government had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs by rejecting the proposal.

Senior advocate of Supreme Court, H S Phoolka expressed similar sentiments and said, "It's surprising that the government does not consider the demand for amendment of Anand Karaj (Marriage) Act justified. There is no constitutional bar on having a separate marriage act for Sikhs.... There are separate marriage acts for Christians and Muslims, then why not for Sikhs?"

DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna said they would wait for another month for government to change its stand, and only after that they would decide on moving the court and launching an agitation.

All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) also blamed the Centre of taking over the identity of Sikhs and said they are chalking out plans to file a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the decision. "The government's action of forcing Sikhs to register their marriages under Hindu Marriage Act is in violation of 'equal rights' provided under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India," said AISSF president Karnail Singh Peermohamad.

He also added that they would also launch 'Proud to be a Sikh' campaign to build mass movement in support of Anand Marriage Act and Sikhs' Right to Self Determination.

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