Religion may be kept out of marriage certificates

published on February 22, 2012

NEW DELHI :The government is considering a change in the law to exclude the religion of individuals from marriage certificates. This follows demands by minority groups, including Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, now shown as Hindus in official documents.

The law ministry is likely to put up a proposal before the Union Cabinet that marriage certificates are made religion-neutral and the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1969 be amended by adding a clause on marriage registration.

The law ministry says since the infrastructure to register births and deaths are already in place, the registration of marriages could be handled with ease by civic authorities. The existing system of religion-based certificates is also likely to continue.

Sources said the Cabinet would take it up after the model code, now in force for the state elections, lapses in March. This move is expected to help couples facing social pressure for marrying against community wishes.

Sikh groups have claimed that Sikhs face problems abroad as their certificates are issued under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Another option could be to revive the Anand Marriage Act 1909. Sikh marriage ceremonies are known as ‘Anand Karaj’.

The Anand Marriage Act, enacted under the Raj, was scrapped after Partition, and Sikh marriages were registered under the Hindu Marriage Act. Jains and Buddhists too are issued certificates under Hindu laws.

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