The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Punjab Congress have hailed union cabinet approval to the Anand Marriage Act which would facilitate separate marriage registration of the Sikhs.
Welcoming the decision, Akali Dal’s Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said his party had repeatedly raised the issue of Anand Marriage Act for the Sikhs in and outside the Parliament on various occasions. He added that centre had acceded to the concerted pressure built by the Sikh leaders and the community.
The former Union 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 Sikh's separate identity. All Sikhs will be happy that finally wisdom has prevailed though it has been accepted very late,” he said.
Dhindsa said that a separate Marriage Act was the birth right of Sikhs, which had been denied to them for about a century. He said that before India gained independence, the Britishers recognized Sikhs as a minority community and had passed the Anand Marriage Act 1909 legalising the Sikh rights of marriage. After independence, Sikhs were not given the minority status and had to register their marriages under Hindu Marriage Act, he added.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Capt Amarinder Singh said that the Anand Marriage Act was a long pending demand of the Sikh community.
Capt Amarinder Singh, while appreciating the concern and respect of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government for the Sikh sentiments, specially thanked the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed for fulfilling the long pending demand of the Singh community. The PCC President had separately met the Prime Minister and the Home and Law Ministers for the introduction of the Anand Marriage Act which was finally approved by the cabinet on Thursday.
Another Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa said it was a long pending demand of the Sikh community both in India and abroad as the existing provision was causing great hardships and inconvenience to them.