SUBAI has built strong links with the Punjab Provincial Assembly Human Rights & Minority Affairs Committee & the Human Rights Caucus. In October 2017 the Committee & Caucus held a roundtable to discuss the proposed Sikh Marriage Bill. The aim of the roundtable was to sensitise and gain support for the “Karaj Bill 2017”. The Bill seeks reforms that will allow for the official registration of marriages of the Sikh community at Union Council level. Pakistan is home to around 15,000 members of the Sikh community. Currently, the marriages of the Sikh community have religious status but they do not have legal status and this creates problems in the identification of married couples. More than a century ago in 1909, an “incomplete” law ‘The Anand Marriage Act’ was passed by the British Raj to recognise and declare validation of marriages of Sikh community but the succeeding governments even after the partition in 1947, did not introduce any amendment to the Act to cover all the required aspects.
As a result of the Roundtable:
- A broad-based consensus was developed amongst the Committee legislators to work together on an agenda to facilitate the passage of the Sikh Marriage Bill;
- Based on recommendations from the roundtable, SUBAI produced amendments to the draft Bill reflecting the concerns raised by the Members;
- This is the first substantial piece of work remitted by the Deputy Speaker to the Human Rights & Minority Affairs to this newly formed Committee which was notified in April 2017.
Most recently the Committee received briefing from 10 Sikh Religious Scholars (Granths) and the Punjab Provincial Government Human Rights and Law Department were able to deliberate on the religious and social aspects, impacts, process and powers related to the draft Bill. These comments were considered by the Committee and recommended modifications to the draft Bill were assembled. Despite this being only the 2nd meeting of the Punjab Provincial Assembly Human Rights & Minority Affairs Committee, the Committee has now submitted the draft Bill to the Law Department and is hopeful that the Bill will be passed in the current ongoing Session. If the Bill does pass then this would be the first Private Members Bill in the five year’s tenure.