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India Sikh Community Demands A Legal Right To Divorce

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Sikh community demands a legal right to divorce

Vikas Kahol - INDIA TODAY - Chandigarh, May 11, 2012 | 22:04

The absence of a provision for divorce in the Anand Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 has sparked a debate among Sikh intellectuals and in the community. The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha recently.

Several scholars and leaders argue that Rehat Maryada, a code of conduct for Sikhs, does not have any reference or place for separating from the spouse and the bill does not provide a provision for divorce. However, the reality is contrary to this stream of thought as Sikh couples have been actually separating from each other legally on different grounds.

Giani Gurbachan Singh, high priest of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, said that a Sikh marries in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. "The tradition and norm makes it imperative that the couple uphold marital union through the life. Still we will discuss the issue in the next meeting of the intellectuals and clergy," he opined.

Even Avtar Singh, president of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest body managing the community's religious shrines, said that the Sikhs never found it appropriate to separate once they get married.

Several other persons, including some Sikhs moving the court for divorce, stated that the act should have the provision for legal separation. In the absence of any such provision, they would have to rely on the Hindu Marriage Act for annulling their weddings.

Prof Gursharanjeet Singh, former head, Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, said that the law would be incomplete if the clause was not added to it. "Divorce is a social reality. The act should permit it under special circumstances," he said.

A Sikh woman in Chandigarh who proposes to file a divorce and maintainance petition against her lawyer husband in New Delhi said that she faced brutality at the hands of her husband and his close family members. "I have also complained to the police about the mental and physical torture faced by me. How can I cling to a person who thrashes me? The tenets of Sikhism have good intentions, but then the Sikhs are never supposed harass the weak and women too. The clause for divorce is a must," she said seeking anonymity.

A man, who too is planning a divorce, said the relationship with his wife had reached a flashpoint since she wanted him to dump his parents and ask them to transfer the property to her. "We tried to convince her that I would inherit the property since I am the only son, but she is adamant. She has left me and is staying with her parents in Karnal," the man said. "I do not have an option except to move the court for divorce."

Oct 21, 2009
How could the Jathedar sahib ask to leavesuch a big legal loophole when he knows the reality of today's world? I know he is trying to give respect to Guru Granth Sahib, but that has to come from people who are coming to sharan for Anand Karaj, not enforced!

Kawaljit ji ..your points and observations are valid. Ground reality is different. Parliamentary Act making process is quite different. Parliamentary standing committee invites suggestions from various political parties for any objection to the Bill that is being proposed to be considered for enactment. Once green signal is received Parliamentary standing committee approves the bill for being passed in either of the House. It is at this stage that bill is deemed to be ready. Making noises now is useless.It shall only postpone all that is received by sikhs i.e. facility for separate registration of marriage and that is this Bill is all about.

Yes, there can be still be a ground of separation on the basis of violation of Rehat Maryada by either of the spouses.But it requires political will and Panthic demands.

However, in my humble opinion its applicability shall be very restrictive and the coverage shall not be exhaustive as only Amritdhari sikhs shall be covered by such an Act. Ordinary sikh /non baptized shall not be within the purview of such an Act. His remedy to divorce shall be governed by the existing provisions of Hindu Marriage Act. It may result in split among-st the sikhs for obvious reasons as there would be constitutional questions about 'proper classification' of sikhs into two separate classes i.e Amritdharis and Non-Amritdharis.

At the most and in the least that can be done is to amend the Hindu Marriage Act only to incorporate that is appropriate for sikhs and it should be pleaded for else the problem shall continue till 't' where 't' tends to be infinity.
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Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
How could the Jathedar sahib ask to leavesuch a big legal loophole when he knows the reality of today's world? I know he is trying to give respect to Guru Granth Sahib, but that has to come from people who are coming to sharan for Anand Karaj, not enforced!

a person who agreed to wed his son to a ex jathedar's daughter..and then quietly agreed to another richer UK rishta..and left the girls father to find out for himself...and when he did find out...and confronted him..this person smiled a sly smile and said..find another for your daughter..and finally wed the son to a THIRD rishta.....such CATS guard our MILK...what do you expect ?? "loopholes" is a MILD WORD indeed...these fat cats would really LOVE to leave Holes the size of the Milkyway galaxy !!! and what about our Biharee jathedar..who claims he copies Guru gobind Singh to marry more than one and still Guards our MILK..?? surely this suits him..he 'cannot" diovrce his first wife..so he marries another..what can he do ?? ha ha..see how the Wily Pandit created such loopholes aplenty for himslef..read Kala Afghanas books..and know why our fat cats do what they do...RESPECT for SGGS is the VERY LAST thing on their minds....Firts and Foremost is "respect" for their political masters...forget not reality...
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Jan 29, 2011
Vancouver, Canada
I think this is the common thing in all religions, the gatekeepers (or golak keepers) of all religions would use respect for the Godhead as a reason to enforce things, which in the end help their own means. It is sad that Sikhi has fallen into this.



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