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Ceremony In A Sikh Temple But No Registration - Binding Or Not?


Jun 1, 2004
Ceremony in a Sikh Temple but No Registration is Not Binding
Landmark ruling on marriage awaited

The Court of Appeal is set to determine whether unions made in temples without a Registrar of Marriages are legal under the law. A British woman is urging the highest court in the land to rule that her union with a Kenyan man she has lived with for 14 years is “not a marriage.”

Ms Papinder Kaur Atwal, through lawyer Ahmed Nassir, urged the appellate judges, Mr Justice Philip Tunoi, Mr Justice Philip Waki and Mr Justice Erustus Githinji to establish that “a ceremony conducted in a Sikh temple in 1995 between her and Mr Manjit Singh Amrit is not a binding legal marriage.”

Pending determination of the case, the judges have blocked Mr Amrit from evicting Ms Atwal from the matrimonial home.


“This court restrains Mr Amrit, his agents, servants, employees, companies and associates from evicting the applicant from the matrimonial home she occupies.”

The judges gave the order after submissions urging them to quash a judgment by High Court judge Mr Justice David Onyancha who found Ms Atwal “guilty of bigamy.”

Justice Onyancha ruled on July 3 that Ms Atwal had contracted an earlier marriage on January 4, 1986 with Mr Intermit Singh Purewal.

Ms Atwal admits she was forcefully married off to Mr Purewal by her parents at the age of 17 at the Registrar’s Office in Coventry, in the United Kingdom. But the marriage was “not consummated” as she fled to her parents’ home the same day, the court heard.


Justice Onyancha nullified the marriage between Mr Amrit and Ms Atwal solemnised in a Sikh temple in London on September 25, 1995. He also gave Mr Amrit custody of their only son.

The judgment was criticised by Mr Nassir, who said that the judge erred in saying that there was a “second marriage” between Ms Atwal and Mr Amrit.

Mr Nassir said that the ceremony conducted at the Sikh temple could not be described as a marriage because it was not presided over by a Registrar of Marriages as stipulated by British law.

However, lawyer Ochieng’ Oduol defended the judgment, saying that Ms Atwal admitted that she did get married at the age of 17. A ruling whether or not on there were two marriages will be made on November 3.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
IN Malaysia a Gurdwara Wedding is just a religious ceremony..of no legal significance.
In fact to have a Gurdwara/church/mandir weddign WITHOUT registration with the Govt Dept. is ILLEGAL. So normally everyoen REGISTERS FIRST..then has a Gurdwara Wedding...and also most Gurdwars have a Govt registered Registrar to make things easy...so BOTH registration and anand karaj can be at same time.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
That is the same here. First you must get a license at the county courthouse, and then the ceremony. Usually there is a required wait-time of a few days in between the license and the ceremony. How long depends on what state you are in. The "cleric" whoever that is signs off on the marriage certificate. It could be a priest, rabbi, minister, elder -- and in the case of a gurdwara wedding there is a person on the management committee who is designated to do it Some people are married by a judge at the courthouse.

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
In the state of California where I got married in 1989, one has to get the licence to get married from the county and get all kinds of blood tests for HIV and other medical tests done. the wait time is 30 days.Then, one has to take the marriage certificate issued by the religious place to the Country registrar along with the medical certification to get the marriage registered.

Nevada is, I think the only state which does not require any wait time and the County Registrar is open 24-7, 365 days a year. One can even get married in Las Vegas through a Drive Thru chapels by fake Elvises.

The divorce is easy too.

Tejwant Singh


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Tejwant ji

I was certain that you would tell us about Las Vegas and Nevada. There is so much interesting cultural history about the state of Nevada -- enough for several books and TV documentaries.

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