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Pakistan bans Sikh marriages under 18; minister announces amendment

Written by  Annesha Barua -- March 23rd 2024 07:39 PM
Pakistan bans Sikh marriages under 18; minister announces amendment

Pakistan bans Sikh marriages under 18; minister announces amendment

PTC News Desk: Ramesh Singh Arora, the pioneering Sikh minister in Pakistan's Punjab province, has announced significant amendments to the provincial Sikh Act. Under these amendments, Sikhs below the age of 18 will no longer be permitted to marry.

Chairing a meeting of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), where he serves as president, Arora highlighted the forthcoming amendments to Pakistan's Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018. These amendments, he emphasised, are designed to benefit the minority Sikh community.

"As part of these amendments, individuals below 18 years of age will be ineligible for marriage according to the Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018. These changes will be formally approved by the cabinet soon," stated Arora, who also serves as the provincial cabinet minister for minority affairs under Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz.

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Representatives from prominent Sikh locations including Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib, and Peshawar attended the meeting. Various amendments to the Sikh Act were proposed and discussed during the session.

Arora detailed the revised marriage procedures, indicating that marriages would adhere to the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. Couples will be required to complete an Anand Karaj form and submit it to the authorised registrar within 30 days of the ceremony. Records of all marriages will be maintained by the offices of the Anand Karj registrar or the union council.

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Key proposals concerning reconciliation councils, marriage registrars, and registrar appointments were also deliberated upon. It was resolved that the chairman of the union council should be selected from the bride's council. "The minimum age for Sikh boys and girls to marry shall be 18 years," as per the meeting's outcomes. Additionally, a five-member Sangat will be responsible for presenting proposals on any disputes between the bride and groom.

Provisions were made for divorce procedures, requiring couples to notify the union council chairman and establish a conciliation committee within 30 days. If reconciliation isn't achieved within 90 days, a certificate will be issued. Arora underscored the legal challenges faced by Sikhs in Pakistan due to the lack of marriage registration, impacting issues like asset distribution. With the implementation of the Act, Sikh couples will now be able to legally register their marriages, alleviating these concerns.

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(Inputs from agencies)



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