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A section of Hindus has never relished the emergence of Sikhism and Sikh Panth ever since the time of Guru Amar Das and Akbar. Under the Lucknow Pact between the Congress and Muslim League in 1916, the Congress conceded to Muslims 50 per cent representation in Punjab. The Punjab Provincial Congress Committee dominated by Arya Samajists in November 1917 denied this right to Sikhs on the contention that “the Sikhs are a part of the larger Hindu community, and as such, are not entitled to separate electorates.” Later in 1936, Nehru, in Glimpses of World History, did not even mention Sikhism and Guru Nanak among the “principal religions and their founders”, nor did he include Panjabi among the “principal languages of India.” It is in this background that framers of the Indian Constitution added Explanation II of Article 25, which provides that reference to “Hindu” shall include persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion.
Sikhs have been feeling perturbed over this since 1950, because it is a subtle way to attack their separate identity. This came to the forefront during the Dharam Yudh Morcha of 1982-1984, when Sardar Parkash Singh Badal travelled incognito in a truck to publicly burn a copy of the page containing Article 25 in New Delhi. In 1997, the Institute of Sikh Studies decided to organise a seminar on Sikh Personal Law to examine all aspects of this issue at academic level. The deliberations of the seminar are presented in this volume. It is the first step for enactment of a separate Sikh Personal Law.
A committee of eminent and well-informed legal experts headed by Justice Kuldip Singh, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India, has been constituted as an outcome of this seminar. It is hoped that this committee will soon produce a draft of personal law for Sikhs. The S.G.P.C. and the Punjab Government would then be requested to pursue the matter with the Government of India. Now that the Akalis, the dominant party of the Sikhs, is a coalition partner at the Centre, it should be possible for them to get this law speedily enacted. Sikhs have now spread to over 100 countries, and urgently need this legislation for validation of Anand marriage, adoption, succession, etc.
I congratulate Dr Kharak Singh for promptly compiling the deliberations of the seminar and articulating the problem of Sikh Personal law.
August 17, 1998
Institute of Sikh Studies