Govt mulls giving religion neutral marriage certificates

 Government is working on a proposal to provide religion neutral marriage certificates to people following demands by minority groups, including Sikhs, who are shown as Hindus in official documents.

An option Law Ministry is likely to suggest to the Cabinet is to amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1969 by adding a clause on marriage registration.
The Law Ministry proposal says that since the infrastructure to register births and deaths is already in place, registration of marriages could be handled with ease by civic authorities.

The present system of issuing religion-based certificates will continue.
According to ministry officials, making registration of marriages religion neutral would also help couples who face social and community pressures for having married according to their wishes.

Sikh groups have maintained that members of the community face problems abroad as their certificates are issued under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Besides Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are also issued certificates under the Hindu laws.

Another option could be the implementation of the Anand Marriage Act, 1909.
Sikh marriage ceremonies are known as 'Anand Karaj' (blissful event). The British had passed the Anand Marriage Act 1909, but it was scrapped after the Partition, and Sikh marriages were registered under the Hindu Marriage Act.

The Cabinet is likely to take a call on the issue after the Model Code of Conduct in force due to assembly elections ends in March.

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