Chandigarh: Political parties and leaders in Punjab Thursday hailed the move of the union cabinet to approve the Anand Marriage Act, which will facilitate separate registration of marriages of Sikhs.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress had been demanding that there should be a separate marriage Act for Sikhs.
Till now, the Sikh marriages were governed and registered under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Rajya Sabha member and Akali Dal general secretary Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa Thursday said that the decision of the union cabinet to give approval to the Anand Marriage Act will facilitate separate registration of marriages of Sikhs.
He said that the AKali Dal had been demanding this for a long time.
"This gesture would spell a wave of happiness among Sikhs and the Diaspora, who were emotionally attached to the Anand Marriage Act," Dhindsa, a former union cabinet minister, said.
"This has been a long standing demand of the Sikh community and we thank the union cabinet and government for keeping its promise in acknowledging Sikhs` separate identity. All Sikhs will be happy that finally wisdom has prevailed, though it has been accepted very late," he said.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heads the union cabinet, is himself a Sikh.
Dhindsa said that the Anand Marriage Act was first implemented by the British in 1909.
"After independence (in Aug 1947), Sikhs were not given minority status and had to get their marriages registered under the Hindu Marriage act only," he pointed out.
He contended that Sikh marriage ceremonies differ significantly from the rituals of marriage of other religions.
"There was a dire need to have a separate marriage act for the Sikhs as Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews already have their own marriage acts," Dhindsa said.
Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh also welcomed the approval to the Anand Marriage Act. He said that this was a long pending demand of the Sikh community.
In a statement, Amarinder thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the Union Law Minister Salman Khurshied for getting the Act approved by the cabinet.