Sikh marriages to get legal status as PA likely to pass historic bill today

  • Minority MPA from opposition benches also assures support


LAHORE: The Sikh community of Punjab may receive good news as a bill to regularise the marriages of couples hailing from the community is likely to be passed by the Punjab Assembly during the ongoing 34th session today, Pakistan Today has learnt.

‘The Punjab Anand Karaj Bill’ was introduced in the house on October 24, 2017, during the 32nd session of the assembly by the only Sikh MPA from Punjab Ramesh Singh Arora and the bill will appear on the agenda item scheduled for today. The said bill after becoming an act would help Sikh couples to register their marriages and dissolutions at the Union Council (UC) level.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Arora said that it would be a historic moment for the people of Punjab when the bill would be passed in the house as the country would get global recognition because it would be the first of its kind legislation in the whole world.

“Although it is a Private Member Bill, I have the support of my party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and I am quite sure that no one from the opposition benches would oppose it keeping in view the importance of the bill,” Arora said while expressing confidence that the bill would be passed unanimously.

It is worth mentioning here that Arora was seen visiting the opposition benches in order to seek the support from the opposition parties the day when he introduced the bill some four months ago and therefore his bill got a smooth sailing in the house.

He further added that he had invited the people from civil society and the representatives of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee to get their input on the much important bill for the Sikh community during the meetings of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Minorities Affairs of the Punjab Assembly that is headed by Arora himself.

“The Sikh community living in London, Canada and the United States while acknowledging my efforts is continuously in contact with me since I introduced the bill that after becoming an act would also help them as they would easily get the registration certificates of their marriages from Pakistan and the document would be very beneficial for them,” said Arora, who after the elections of 2013, became the first Sikh MPA of Punjab since 1947.

“Earlier, our marriages were registered under an act that was introduced by the British in 1909, but it got redundant after the partition of 1947,” said Arora.

According to Arora, he has talked to the federal law secretary as well as his party desired that the bill should also be passed by the National Assembly to spread its spectrum in the whole country that has a population of some 25,000 people of Sikh community.

“The marriages of our community in India are registered under the Hindu Marriage Act despite the fact that India claims to be the largest secular state. This legislation of the Punjab Assembly would set a great precedent worldwide,” he added.

Shunila Ruth, a minority MPA of the opposition benches hailing from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf told Pakistan Today that her party would not oppose the bill as she herself was a member of the committee who made deliberations on the bill.

“Such bills should be introduced in the National Assembly instead of being introduced in the provincial assembly and I also gave this suggestion during the meeting of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Minority Affairs,” she said while adding that the bill would be passed unanimously keeping in view its importance for the Sikh community.

However, she was quite worried regarding the quorum of the house as the treasury miserably failed to meet the quorum during the past two weeks. “The bill might be marred with the perennial quorum problem of the government,” said Ruth.