The Anand Marriage Act, 1909 was enacted by the Imperial Legislative Council under the Governor General to legalize anand marriage ceremony which is identical among the Sikhs. From the early stages of Sikhism, anand marriage ceremony existed. But during the time of Maharaja Ranjith Singh, the practice descended but subsequently restarted by the Nirankari movement. The practice of anand marriage was considered suspiciously by Brahmin priest who practiced the old Hindu principles. The priests began to conclude and terminate the sikh practice. But the Sikhs required another codified law to legalize their practices. As a result, Anand Marriage Bill was initiated in the Imperial Legislative Council and the Council handed over the Bill to a Select Committee and thereafter the bill was passed on October 22, 1909.
The main purpose of the Act was to overcome the difficulties relating to the validity of anand marriage ceremony which was identical between Sikhs. According to the provisions of the Act, all marriages that have or is to be formalized as per the anand marriage ceremony among Sikhs shall be considered to be enforced from the date of formalization of each correspondingly, good and legal in law. The Act exempts some marriages from the purview of the Act. Accordingly, any marriage among persons who are not following the Sikh religion or any marriage that are affirmed null and invalid by judiciary are excluded from the meaning of the Act. Moreover, the legality of marriage that are properly formalized as per any other type of marriage usually practiced among Sikhs as custom shall not be affected by the provisions of this Act. The Act does not legalize a marriage among persons who are in consanguinity or affinity relation that as per custom followed by Sikhs render the marriage among them against the law.
When amendment was effected to the Act in 2012, many changes were brought forward. The Act was made applicable to the entire Indian Territory excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Anand marriage was provided with the traditional name ‘Anand Karaj’. The Act also made registration of anand marriages. In order to make proof of the solemnized marriage ceremony which is popularly called as Anand Karaj, practiced as a custom among Sikhs, the State Government is empowered to frame rules that give the parties to keep the details of the formalized marriage. The State government shall, in this regard, not frame rules detrimental to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The marriages are to be registered in the marriage register under the control of the officer working under the State Government or local authority empowered by the State Government. The details of the marriage shall be entered according to the provisions of the rules formulated by the State Government. The marriages shall be registered compulsorily despite the fact that the marriage was formalized prior or subsequent to the enactment of Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012. On an application, the register of marriage shall be inspected at rational periods and shall be admitted as evidence of statements that are included in the register as well as the certified extracts. When such application is preferred, the registrar shall give such register for inspection to the parties to the marriage by paying the prescribed fee determined under the rule.
In addition, the legality of anand marriage formalized shall be unaffected by the error to include an entry in the marriage register. The rules made as per the provisions of this Act by the State Government are to be laid before the legislature of the State right away after it is being framed. When a marriage is registered under the provisions of this Act, then that parties need not register marriage under any other law which is being enforced. Hence, the anand marriage that prevailed among Sikhs attained legal validation through this enactment. The Anand Marriage Act, 1909 was amended by enacting Anand Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2012.