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India Anand Marriage Act 1909 And The Marriage Laws

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Anand Marriage Act 1909 and the Marriage Laws

Joginder Singh Toor ( Advocate in Punjab & Haryana High Court at Chandigarh (India) - South Asia Post


Anand Karaj Ceremony introduced by Guru Amar Das Ji for performance of Sikh marriages continued to be followed amongst Sikh masses. The marriages so performed met with objection mainly from two sections of the Hindu community. The priestly class concerned about its business and the Arya Smajists by the distraction of Sikhs from Hindu tenets,customs, values and the Hindu culture. They claimed that the Sikhs are the subsect of Hinduism. The marriages performed by Anand Karaj ceremony were termed by them as illegal and the offspring of such marriages as illegitimate ones.

The Singh Sahba, the Nam Dhari’s, the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sikh Organizations, Scholars, Preachers and Writers sought its validation from the British.Tikka Ripudaman Singh of Nabha, a member of the then Imperial Legislative Council sought statutory recognition to the Anand Karaj Ceremony. He held discussion with the then Vice Roy Sir Erie Richards at Shimla and sent a note to him stating that “There were good reasons to believe that in the absence of a validating enactment, doubts may be thrown upon it and Sikhs may have to face great difficulties in the future and incur heavy expenditure on suits instituted in civil courts”. The then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab did not find favour with this demand.

Ripudaman Singh. The Chief Secretary to Government of Punjab reported that “the Lieutenant Governor has satisfied himself that the Anand form of marriage has been impugned by non-Sikhs and more especially by the members of the Arya Smajists and that there has been certain amount of pamphlet warfare in which the children of such marriages have been branded as illegitimate by the opponents of the Neo-Sikh Party”--- “and moreover, since the ceremony was simple and a less expensive one than that ordinarily enforced among Hindus” and that “the bill had a popular support”.

Meanwhile, the term of Tikka Ripudaman Singh as member imperial legislative council expired. S. Sundar Singh Majithiawas taken in his place. The bill was introduced by Mr. Majithia against strong opposition from the above sections of the Hindu Society. There was equally strong support from Sikh sectors. The bill was passed and became an Act in the year 1909 with only two sections, validating the Anand marriages in the following terms:

“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”. “Nothing in this Act is to apply to any marriages between any persons not professing the Sikh religion and any marriage which has been judicially declared null and void.” “Nothing in the Act to affect the validity of marriage duly solemnized amongst Sikhs according to any other marriage ceremony, nor this act shall be deemed to validate any marriage between persons who are related to each other in any degree of consanguinity or affinity, which would according to customary law of the Sikhs, render the marriage between them illegal. “

The Anand Marriage Act is not a marriage Act in its legal sense, because a marriage Act has to have all the components, incidencesand conditions of marriage such as who can be parties to the marriage whether only male or female or the persons of the same sex also. The conditions of marriage regarding age, consanguinity, infinity are to be specified. It must further provide for eventualities giving rise to separate living, seeking the marriage to be declared null and void. The grounds for getting divorce and the provision for maintenance of the spouse and children after divorce are to be stated,besides providing the procedure for the same.

The registration of marriage is required as a proof of marriage and the procedure for the same has also to be provided under the Act.The Hindu Marriage Act contains all these provisions.The point of irritation regarding the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Actis mainly two fold.(i) the Act says that it shall apply to Hindus and the term Hindu is to be interpreted as including Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. It renders Sikhs as sub sect of Hinduism. (ii) the other communities have their separate marriage laws such as the Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage Act, and the Muslim Marriage laws. The Anand Marriage Act should be a complete Marriage Act for the Sikhs.The registration of marriages performed by way of Anand Karaj Ceremony are to be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act and a certificate issues under a different Act, irks certain minds. There was apersistent demand for a provision of registration of marriages performed by way of Anand Karaj Ceremony, under the Anand Marriage Act 1909 itself. The demand has engaged the parliamentarians for a long time with for and against views. Ultimately the amendment bill has been passed, providing for the registration of marriages under the Anand Marriage Act 1909 by adding the following clause:

“For the purpose of facilitation of proof of marriage ceremony(commonly known as Anand Karaj) customary amongst the Sikhs, the state government shall, without prejudice to anything contained in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 or any other law for the time being enforce, make rules providing for the parties to any such marriage, whether solemnized before or after the commencement of the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act 2012 may have the particulars relating to their marriage entered, in such manner and subject to such conditions, as may be provided in such rules, in marriage register kept by such official of the state government or of a local authority authorized by the state government by notification in the official gazette in this behalf”.The provision now added is an enabling provision. The Anand Marriage Act is still not a Marriage Act. It is only avalidating and an enabling Act. The contents of a marriage Act are far and wideand subject of open discussion which has as yet not started in Sikh circles except in a few corners, that too, with conflicting and controversial views, particularly regarding permission or procedure of divorce, the right of the spouse in the property of the other spouse, and many other incidental factors.The achievement of the year 1909 was not a small matter, keeping in view the circumstances prevailing at that time and the opposition that had to be faced. The enabling provision now added regarding registration of the marriage meets a long standing demand.

[Writer is an Advocate in Punjab & Haryana High Court at Chandigarh (India). Cell 91-9815133530, Email jogindersingh_toor@yahoo.com ]