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Petitioning President of the United States, United States Department of Labor, United States Supreme Court, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives

Make Thursday Night The Legal Start Of The Weekend

Thursday Night Football should be more than just a game, it should be the official, legal start of a three-day weekend. America is at a crossroads. The choice is clear: do we continue to suffer the indignity of a two-day weekend? Do we keep sleepy Fridays at work dreaming of escaping the cubicle as part of our weekly routine? OR do we rise up to make the change that hardworking members of society have deserved for so long? Our demands are simple. We, the people, the football fans, the hard working people of the United States deserve better. To be precise, what we deserve is a longer weekend and one that starts at the same time as Thursday night kick off. All we ask is that the government simply change our national calendar, and make Thursday night the start of the weekend. That’s all. No big deal. We’ve punched the card too many times to deserve anything less. Join the movement. With every signature, we are one step closer to starting the weekend early and making a real change for every single working class member of society. It is only together that the future is possible.

Whistle Sports
12,092 supporters
Petitioning Department of Homeland Security, President of the United States, United States Department of Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate

United States TPS Extension for Salvadorans

On January 8, President Donald Trump blocked the temporary protected status (TPS) of 250,000+ Salvadoran immigrants who LEGALLY live and work in the United States.  Now, despite many living in the U.S. for 15-20 years, these fingerprinted, documented, tax paying individuals are given ONLY 18 MONTHS (Sept. 2019) to get permanent resident status (which can take years to accomplish, if at all) otherwise be forced to leave the country. Now, the U.S. is considered their home--a country that's allowed them to build a better, safer life. These people aren't just grandparents, parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. They are also our friends, neighbors and community leaders who are intertwined in our workplaces, schools and neighborhoods. They are our loved ones. And now President Trump is saying that their contributions don't matter and that they don't belong.WATCH: "Their Status is Temporary. But to Salvadorans, the U.S. is Home"https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000005611803/tps-el-salvador-immigration.html?playlistId=100000002500298"These innocent people fled their home country after a disastrous earthquake, and while living conditions may have slightly improved, El Salvador now faces a significant problem with drug trafficking, gangs and crime. Since 2001, these people have established themselves in the United States, making countless contributions to our society and our local communities. It would be devastating to send them home after they have created a humble living for themselves and their families." - Rep. Diaz-Balart PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE the petition to help Salvadorans get their TPS extended, as well as pass legislation to help them find a path to permanent residency and/or citizenship. 

Michael Boley
10,999 supporters
Petitioning Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, California State Senate, California State House, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Hillary Clinton, Doug LaMalfa, Connie Leyva, Donald Wagner, Donald Trump, President Don...

Unhomeless the Homeless in California

Declare Homelessness State of Emergency in California L.A. County Homeless On any given night, there are over 148,000 homeless people in California - 23% of the entire nation’s homeless population.  Los Angeles County has the second largest population of homeless people of any region in the United States, according to a government report released Wednesday. In Los Angeles, 600,000 people are considered "severely rent burdened," which means they spend half their income on rent. More than 8,000 people became homeless here for the first time last year, according to the 2017 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority report. "We are reaching levels of inequality that we have not seen since the Gilded Age," said Tracy Rosenthal of the Los Angeles Tenants Union. The union helps organize tenant boycotts against things like rent increases and gentrification. Los Angeles County's total — 55,188 — was behind only New York City's 76,501, according to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, 95 percent of people experiencing homelessness in New York City were sheltered, the report found, while only 25 percent of those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles were sheltered in 2017. The HUD report findings were similar to the results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released in June by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which put the county's homeless total at 57,794 — an increase of 23 percent over the previous count. The HUD report found that on one night in January, nearly one of every four people experiencing homelessness in the United States was in New York City or Los Angeles. According to the report, overall homelessness increased nationwide this year for the first time in seven years, by slightly under 1 percent compared to 2016. On a given night across the country, 553,742 people were homeless, with nearly two-thirds housed in shelters or transitional housing programs and one- third living on the streets, according to the report L.A.'s big increase in homelessness had a significant impact on the national numbers. Between 2016 and 2017, individual homelessness increased by 9 percent (15,540 people) in the nation's major cities. Los Angeles accounted for 60 percent of this increase. According to the report, Los Angeles County ranked: - second nationally in the percent of unsheltered homeless, at 84.3 percent; - first in the number of individuals who are homeless, at 47,082; - first in the number of unaccompanied homeless youth at 5,163; and first in the number of homeless veterans (4,476) and percentage of unsheltered veterans (76.1 percent). California had 134,278 homeless people, and while the Golden State has the nation's largest population, the rate of 34 homeless residents per 10,000 people was twice the national average, according to the report. Of those, 68 percent were living on the streets, by far the worst percentage. The report said half the nation's homeless live in California, New York, Florida, Texas or Washington. Counties across the state are facing a pervasive and deepening homeless crisis that imminently endangers the health and safety of tens of thousands of residents, including veterans, women, children, LGBT, youth, persons with disabilities and seniors.  Nowhere is this more evident than in Los Angeles County at least  134,278 men, women and children -- 10,000 to 12,000 in Downtown, including more than 8,000 parents and children in the San Fernando Valley alone -- are without homes. There are beds for less than one third of the homeless in Los Angeles county, comprehensive services are available to far fewer than half, and the county jails are routinely used as a substitution for mental health facilities.  In Los Angeles county the tremendous scale of homelessness threatens the economic stability of the entire region by burdening emergency medical services and the social services infrastructure. It is time to treat this crisis like the emergency it truly is.  The increasing numbers of displaced homeless people and the lack of ongoing resources to stably re-house them require immediate and extraordinary action. That is why We in LA County are taking the lead in a statewide effort to ask Governor Brown to declare a state of emergency in California to address this growing humanitarian crisis. Please join us! Sign our petition urging to declare the homeless crisis a state of emergency and bring the concerted effort and resources needed to tackle this crisis in a meaningful way.  Homelessness, Humanitarianism, Social justice, Human Rights, Economic Justice, Homeless crisis, Affordable housing, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and the Right to Live Free of prejudice. No human in our country should be homeless. Let's take the first step together. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home.  Then Share this petition with your friends on social media to spread the word even further. Thank you for your support.

Lori Jean Siebers
3,598 supporters
Petitioning Paul Ricci, CEO

Stop the hidden exploitation of home-based Medical Transcriptionists in MT Services (MTSO)

Summary:  Tens of thousands of U.S. and Canadian home-based medical transcriptionist/editors (MTEs) work either as regular employees or independent contractors for various medical transcription service organizations (MTSOs) located throughout the country.  Their pay and working conditions have deteriorated in the last decade since the introduction of speech recognition technology, although the new technology did not prove as productive as forecast to warrant the reductions in pay at implementation, and did not replace the need for the same level of skilled workers.  Physicians and other healthcare providers don't get their pay cut when EHRs, robots or other technology help them to work more efficiently or with less strain and fatigue.  Healthcare facility-based MTEs doing the same work with the same technology, who may or may not have union representation, and often also work from home, are paid at least double to triple on average what their peers in MTSOs receive.  The difference is that workers in MTSOs are isolated from each other and unable to collectively bargain for their pay, performance measurement system, or other working conditions.  This petition calls for MTSOs to enable their employees to access their peers to organize for collective bargaining, and to utilize a fair, industry-standard performance measurement system and market-base pay system comparable to their counterparts in healthcare facilities.  It also calls on healthcare providers and administrators to support these efforts when considering outsourcing medical transcription. Detail:   In the last decade or so, MTSOs have been able to slash pay up to 60% based on the new technology of Speech Recognition (SR), which was projected to be far more accurate and productive than it actually turned out to be. (It was forecast as a 100% production increase, leading to cutting the pay rate in half of straight transcribing at implementation, versus an actual yielded productivity increase of approximately 20% to 30% in MTSOs, but not readjusting the pay rate upon this finding).  SR was made even less productive than forecast by changing from assigning single or backup accounts to assigning work across multiple, rotating, changing accounts to meet turnaround times, new account acquisitions or losses, and in some cases to train the SR for accounts to be off-shored later to India.  Production and quality are best maximized and maintained with familiar and unchanging conditions.  The change in technology did not reduce the skill level or knowledge base requirement of the workers, and in fact added new skills of editing.   Performance measurement systems were put in place by MTSOs to pay MTs again by production, across all workers, even though there are varying software platforms with variable productivity features, and varying amounts and complexity of accounts, dictators, and work types, which is often not factored and adjusted fully or at all.  Despite the variability, all workers are held to the same standard, even though this is contradictory to best practices established by AHDI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity).   In recent years, QA standards in MTSOs have risen beyond industry standards from 98% to 99% or 99.6%, which requires more time, yet not necessarily adjusted for in line count requirements, and which are difficult to fully gauge.  In some MTSOs, pay rates for the entire week are often reduced if the QA or production standards are not met weekly, even if off by 1 line or 0.1% for a single audit in a week.  This practice is also not recommended by AHDI.  Performance audits are not averaged over time to allow for variability in work assignments, new technology or accounts, illness, life situations, etc.  Rather, each week, the MT must meet standards or lose pay that week and be set up for performance action planning and termination, even when the variability makes meeting performance standards on a weekly basis difficult, and regardless if their average scores over several weeks is actually above standard.  Workers are put in the frustrating position of not being able to gauge or control their performance, which is described by AHDI as the failing of this type of compensation system.  Go too fast, they may lose points in QA accuracy. Go too slow for accuracy and they may lose points for production. Again, this system is not recommended by AHDI as best industry practice. Turnover is unnecessarily frequent due to rigidly-applied, erroneous standards, and the "luck of the draw" in work assignments, personal health and life situations, or a more or less lenient manager.  Many managers are pressured to adhere strictly to metrics, and those that are too lenient in making allowances for typically excusable circumstances become "no longer with the company." Some managers may manipulate the work to "justify" moving MTs around or out with changing "business needs."  As a result of the work assignment and compensation methods, pay is often near minimum wage, or less, which the company has to mark up to pay minimum wage.  This then becomes a performance issue on the metrics spreadsheet, which is all these workers basically are, a number on a spreadsheet, that also includes line counts, quality, "force to QA rate" for blanks, and productive time (time on keyboard versus not keyboarding).  Though they are a skilled technical and knowledge base, and their counterparts in healthcare facilities are making double the pay in an hourly-pay or unchanging environment, they are kept to minimum wage.  Most MTs who have worked in the industry for awhile saw their wages fall to half of what they previously were before the misapplied technology of SR, and they can no longer make a living.  Though they may receive benefits such as health insurance, their wages are often so low they qualify for public-assisted healthcare, similar to what was found at Walmart or McDonalds.  Some MTSOs will overuse or misuse independent contractors (ICs), stretching the boundaries of their work requirements to avoid paying employee-status benefits or payroll service, and subjecting them to the same working conditions as employee-status MTs. Beyond low wages for MTs in MTSOs (in which many MTSOs reap CEO salaries and profits in the multiple millions to near billions of dollars), the environment described above creates a pressure-filled and morale-challenged environment, with MTs often receiving feedback on minor errors and metric shortfalls on a daily to weekly basis, and living in fear of decreased wages each week or losing their jobs due to performance metrics.  There are often work shortages due to improper staffing and account work distribution, and staff are expected to make up time later or use PTO if they have it regardless of their schedules, and may end up short on payday.  Many feel they are on a treadmill, and not able to earn more in what is supposed to be an incentive pay system.  Many have had their savings depleted to make ends meet.  Others have simply left, some to find relatively better positions in other MTSOs, but which may ultimately end up being bought out by those same larger companies in what has become a monopolistic, noncompetitive (copying practice and pay) environment, and some MTs have simply left the industry altogether.   Some report their experiences directly to management, others anonymously in places like Glassdoor, Indeed, MT Stars etc.  An article describing the situation was published a short while back in For the Record. Many will not say anything because they fear that more of their jobs will be off-shored to India or other countries, although turnaround time needs and time zones, proficiency gaps, and quality concerns continue to keep work in the states.  Some MTSOs refuse to offshore medical records due to varying concerns around quality, HIPAA security, privacy, and confidentiality, other regulatory violations, identity theft, fraud, extortion, logistics, and support for U.S. (and Canadian)-based employees. We ask your help to petition the MTSOs to allow MTs full access to their peers including email addresses and meeting forums for the purpose of collaborating and collective bargaining, and to bring performance and compensation systems and wages up to the best practices of AHDI and the market pay of their peers in healthcare organizations. We ask that healthcare consumers call on healthcare providers to keep their medical records in the United States (and Canada) where its citizens and MTs are rigorously trained, required and committed to follow stringent privacy and confidentiality laws as well as practice professional ethics. We also call upon healthcare providers, hospital administrators, AHIMA, CHIMA and AHDI to show their support for the skilled, U.S. (and Canadian) home-based staff in MTSOs that work hard to alleviate the record-keeping burden of providers, providing high-quality medical records within needed time frames. We call on them to require MTSOs to improve their practice as we have requested. We ask them to withdraw support and patronage for MTSOs that engage in the aforementioned inhumane and poor management, erroneous and unjust performance and compensation practices, and offshoring work in an effort to cut costs, that in the long run does not return a savings and harms U.S. (and Canadian) citizen workers.  We call on them to patronize and support MTSOs that do not offshore their work and that provide fair performance measurement and pay commensurate with the skill and knowledge base of the position, the cost of living and comparative pay to their peers in healthcare organizations. Additional References: 1. The EHR Burden needs to be Solved:http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/opinion/why-the-ehr-documentation-burden-needs-to-be-solved 2. As Hospitals Go Digital, Human Stories Get Left Behind:https://www.statnews.com/2016/04/06/electronic-medical-records-patients/?_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_Y7EyonE5dcNmjpoaLU-lVlimpUymZ483Wt1aSv2dNeLBtdXsb6SD_fG1odDC4ihMfl4oeC4DI1X2WhkHkqxsLDbpgcw&_hsmi=28168114 3. EHRs, Clerical Tasks Contribute to Physician Burnout:http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/865469 4.  Readers Write: It’s Time to Get Doctors Out of EHR Data Entry:http://histalk2.com/2016/04/20/readers-write-its-time-to-get-doctors-out-of-ehr-data-entry/  5. Finance Leaders Rethink Transcription: Six Critical Criteria in a Changing Landscape: http://www.webmedx.com/corporate/about-us/CaseStudies/WhitePaper_CFO.pdf 6. Medical Transcription Services: How to Choose and Negotiate:http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8847-best-medical-transcription-services.html 7. Hidden High Costs of Offshoring Medical Transcription Work to India:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hidden-high-costs-offshoring-medical-transcription-work-dawn-lindholm 8. Offshore Health Records May Pose Privacy Risk: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20140418/BLOG/304189995 9. Offshoring and Privacy Protection:http://www.citizen.org/trade/offshoring/privacy/ 10.  The Truth About Medical Transcription:  http://dailytwocents.com/truth-medical-transcription/#comment-35069 11.  Life at the Low End of the Pay Scale:http://www.fortherecordmag.com/archives/0315p18.shtml 12.  The Sledgehammer Approach to Management (SLAPM):http://www.wahlscribe.com/uncategorized/the-sledgehammer-approach-to-management-slapm/ 13.  Five Tips To Better Measure Productivity:  http://www.fortherecordmag.com/archives/013111p8.shtml  14.  Are Scorecards and Metrics Killing Employee Engagement?https://hbr.org/2011/07/are-scorecards-and-metrics-kil  15.  Measuring Programmer Productivity is a Waste of Time [shift in focus from individual metrics to outcome or group metrics (turnaround time) and process bottleneck improvements]:  http://nesma.org/2015/01/programmer-productivity-is-waste-of-time/  16.  Electronic record errors growing issue in lawsuits:  http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/electronic-record-errors-growing-issue-in-lawsuits-117591  17.  Exploitation is Exploitation is Exploitation:  https://filmanddigitalmedia.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/exploitation-is-exploitation-is-exploitation/

MT Coalition
2,631 supporters
Petitioning Federal Drug Administration, Centers For Disease Control, United States Department of Labor

Investigation into AWL Chicago Ridge’s substandard living conditions of the animals

We are requesting a third party investigation of Animal Welfare League In Chicago Ridge , Illinois, which is a non-for profit, private animal shelter.  These photographs were FOIA’d from the Illinois Department of Agriculture In 2015.  How could these unsanitary, unsafe, deplorable conditions pass the IL Department of Agriculture’s inspections ? Aside from the health risks these already sick animals are exposed to, what about the health and safety of the employees and volunteers? This problem has existed for years and still exists today! As you can see in the photographs of the shelters garage, animals are being kept in their kennels next to pigeon coups.  The pigeons are defecating on, in and around these dogs, despite having “cardboard boxes” for crate covers !!  These conditions are horrific, unsafe, unhealthy, deplorable, substandard conditions and should not be allowed.  We do not want AWL shut down, but want to make it what it should be, a safe and clean place for the animals. This shelter needs to get rid of current management and board members, and bring in people who care about the lives of these animals !!       

Sara Rhoades
2,565 supporters
Victory
Petitioning United States Department of Labor, President of the United States, Richard Blumenthal, Bernie Sanders, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, Marco R...

congressional investigation of UAW corruption

the recent FBI investigation into the fca,ford and gm training centers and the bribery and embezzlement of funds between union and company's involved . As an auto worker myself i believe along with many of my coworkers that this impacted our collective bargaining agreements impacting our lives and working conditions and shop rules. the iuaw took money to look the other way and push through one sided contracts over the last 15 years it's our belief that the current state of the iuaw is one of curruption and greed. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.detroitnews.com/amp/107393100

Robert Richard
1,009 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, Mike Pence, United States Department of Labor, Homeland Security Help Desk, Department of Labor, Maria Lujan, Department of Homeland Security

TAKE ACTION: Sec. Kelly Must Resume Processing of H-2B Petitions!

We must ask DHS Sec. John Kelly to enforce the language that was passed in the FY2017 Omnibus bill. This language was passed by both Houses of Congress and the President on May 5 and gave permission to both Secretaries to resume H-2B processing.  Please sign the petition and leave a "reason for signing". This will automatically send an email on your behalf with the information in this petition to people that have the power to make these decisions.  Thousands of employers are still stuck in limbo and are awaiting further processing of H2B petitions. There is nothing more important to these employers and employees who are the backbone of America's economy.

SAVE H-2B
806 supporters
Petitioning United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, WHD , U.S. Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, Rosa DeLauro, Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, R...

Paid parental and family leave

The United States is the only industrialized country, and one of the only few countries in the world without any paid parental leave. Other countries are starting to provide paid paternity leave in a movement towards gender equality and better family raising, when our country has not even given the mothers a chance to bond, breastfeed, or care for their children.  While the rest of the world takes care of the parents and the growing population, United States makes it harder than any other country to procreate without fear of  financial instability.  The only relief in place is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed in 1993, that entitles eligible employees to take "unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons" (https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm  In summary, the FMLA provides:   Up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period Unpaid leave, with guaranteed reinstatement unless you are a highly paid, salaried employee considered a "key" employee Leave to care for a new child (birth or adoption); a spouse, child, or parent with serious health conditions; or for a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to preform his duties.   This is unacceptably not enough - every other high income country provides some sort of paid parental and family leave. Out of the 193 countries in the UN, USA is one of only four nations that does not do so. While some companies  started providing their own paid parental leave, it is rarely offered to fathers and only some employees are legible for the partial pay.  This is an issue on many levels: social, economic, and even health. Both parents should have the right to spend time with their newborn child, or their seriously sick family member, without punishment of losing a job title or plummeting into debt and economic challenges. It is a reasonably earned benefit provided by the rest of the world, except for United States, a country that claims itself as a superpower yet fails to provide it's people with something so globally accepted.  The fertility rate has hit a record low, and more and more people are choosing not to have children, and unpaid leave accounts for part of the reason. Many women, can't even get one paid day off for their child's birth, let alone a paid week to bond, breastfeed and recover.  The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, is a proposal for paid family and medical leave from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). This act, would provide the same twelve weeks of protected job leave, however it would be at least partially paid.  "The Family Act (PDF), sponsored by Democrats, would create a trust fund, similar to social security, paid by taxes on workers and employers, to fund up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents, as well as for other family emergencies" (https://qz.com/909145/trump-may-finally-bring-paid-parental-leave-to-america-this-year/  With small contributions of only an average of $2 a week from workers, and a cap of $227.40 contributed yearly, United States can finally begin to provide the paid family and parental leave everyone is entitled to, at no great economic costs to the government or the companies, as it would be fully funded by the employees' paychecks.  After a similar setup was implemented in California as an expansion to the existing State Disability Insurance System, 2/3 of the workers did not even notice a change in the paychecks. The same goes for the FAMILY Act, but while the pay difference may be almost unnoticeable, the benefits would be major. Studies on how paid maternal leave affects families, and implementation of paid family leave in California, Rhode Island, Washington, New Jersey, and New York—and the District of Columbia, have proven the following benefits: Lower rates of child mortality and premature birth  Better cognitive and socioemotional development of children Raises probability of mother's returning to work after a child's birth Parents are less likely to need food stamps and public aid  Boosts employee morale Improves individual productivity The Center for Economic and Policy Research, conducted a report on Californian companies that have provided paid family leave, and found that "from 89 percent to 99 percent of employers say it has had no effect or a positive one on productivity, profitability, turnover and morale" (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/upshot/the-economic-benefits-of-paid-parental-leave.html  The FAMILY Act, is a small step towards improving social and worker rights, however it is a change necessary. The bill was introduced into the Senate in February 2017, and after being read and referred to the Committee on Finance, no action has been taken since.  Action needs to be taken in order to give American families the rights and protection they deserve. It is unacceptable for United States to be the only economically developed country to make parents sacrifice family time for the economic fear of corporations. The FAMILY Act is a change in the right direction, and it needs to be made a higher priority on the Congressional Agenda. Action needs to be taken within the Committee of Finance, whether it is held for hearing or referred to a subcommittee. We must demand that the Congress takes action to move the FAMILY Act through the legislative progress, as families deserve to hope for a future of paid family leave, and burying that possibility with no additional hearings is cruel and unfair. United States has gone too long depriving their workers of the paid leave every other country manages to provide. Lets care for the families, mothers, fathers and children - stop letting money, corporations and business greed take over that possibility. Sign this petition and help provide parents and family members in the workforce with protected paid family leave we all deserve.   More information on the FAMILY Act 

Ludmila Sviderskaya
606 supporters
Petitioning OSHA, United States Department of Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate

They Stripped Our Departed Loved Ones Away From Us

“Out Of Sight Out Of Mind” must be the new motto of OSHA (Occupational Safety And Health Administration). On or about August 25, 2017 after a long-standing stance moving in support of working families who have endured a loss in the workplace by publishing the names of our lost loved ones, , OSHA decided, to no longer honor the memory of our loved ones an removed the names of our fallen workers from their home page.  Why?  As you may have heard through multiple news articles is that OSHA would like to respect the privacy of the families... Tammy Miser lost her brother Shawn Boone, 33 in an aluminum dust explosion at Hayes Lemmerz Int. in Huntington, Indiana.   Tammy responded with the following, "It is a bit odd that OSHA has determined to strike without the facts and knowing that the MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) has and will continue to honor and publish the names of lost miners. Publishing these names humanize the incident after all it is about worker safety and what better way to have a lesson learned than to show the full impact in has on the families and those left behind " Danielle Dole  lost her father Sherman Lynn Holmes, 55 when he was struck by a felled tree while working at K&K Forest Products in Evart, Michigan.  Danielle stated, "I TOTALLY disagree with removing the names!!! How can they say it's for our privacy?. Obviously they have not talked to a family member who has lost a loved one."  We as family members DISAGREE! Families have a strong desire to ensure no one endures a loss like the one they have, there is only one way to achieve this, and that is through acknowledgment, understanding, education and unfortunately hitting the pockets of those who choose to continue to try to skirt the rules. OSHA is taking a step back and lost their compassion and purpose.  Not only has OSHA stripped our loved ones from their front page but they have also decided if there were no citations death and dismemberment no longer matters.  Maybe OSHA has forgotten why they were set in motion in the first place.  The families who have already lost someone in the workplace have to know that they can send their sons and daughters out to work without fear of losing them also.  How can we, knowing that OSHA is putting politics before the very ones who built this nation, the working people?   On behalf of family members all across America, we ask that you make our loved ones count again. Put all our lost workers names back on your home page!

USMWF ORG
576 supporters
Petitioning chief justice of india, Lok Sabha Speaker, rajya sabha speaker, Arvind Kejriwal, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Muoio, Elizabeth Warren, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May MP, SGPC , DSGMC, Roxanne Persaud, Unit...

Sikh Personal Law in Indian Constitution like Muslim/Hindu/Christian Personal Laws

Sikh are Not Hindus , but as per Constitution of India we are forcibly put under Hindu Personal Law, Sikhism is a Separate Religion and we want to get it's recognition in Indian Constitution which is being denied since formation of India  Brief about Need of Personal Law for Sikhs  Sikhs and Personal Law Personal LawLiterally, the term seems to refer to the law concerning matters of personal nature. Use of the term in this sense, though correct to some extent, is not very proper and accurate, because it does not cover all the personal jural relations of the individuals. For example, personal obligations arising out of the private agreements and transfers are not governed by these laws. Besides, personal law of Hindus and Muslims also deals with public, religious and charitable endowments and public wakfs, which are not matters strictly of personal nature. After the Roman Empire was overthrown in the 5th century, tribe after tribe settled in the territories where hitherto Roman Law had prevailed. Each tribe retained its own tribal law, and the territorial law applicable to all persons living within that area ceased to apply. The basis of law changed from territorial to personal, as each tribe lived under its own law. Thus, the system of personal law came into being. There were, of course, exceptions to this system of personal or tribal law, as criminal law and canon law were of universal application. This system of personal law lasted there for about four hundred years.1 In India, era of personal laws emerged with the establishment of the Mughal empire in India. Prior to that, the law in India was territorial, though usage and custom too had their place, sometimes supplementing the law and sometimes even overruling it. During the whole of the British period, various Indian religious communities continued to be governed by their personal laws in their personal (family) matters.2 Personal Law, according to Cheshire, would mean law relating to personal status, and the matters which are to a greater or lesser extent governed by the personal law, are essential validity of marriage, mutual rights and obligations of husband and wife, parents and child, guardian and ward, the effect of marriage on property, divorce, annulment of marriage, legitimation and adoption, certain aspects of capacity, and testamentary and intestate succession to moveables.3 Similar description of matters governed by personal law is given by the Supreme Court of India.4 But the personal law applies to succession to immoveables also. Mulla has correctly described personal law as “the laws and customs as to succession and family relations.”5 Personal law implies that wherever a person goes, he carries his law with him. The term personal law is used in contrast to lex-loci which means a law which applies to all in a particular locality, territory or state. But one is governed by his personal law in whatever country he may be, and in matters of marriage, adoption, succession, etc., the law of the place where one is residing will not be applicable. Personal law goes with the person wherever he goes, unless and except in so far as the territorial laws of the land of his domicile override it. In personal matters, laws in India are not territorial, but personal. There is no national or regional law pertaining to personal (family) matters. Personal law differs from community to community. It is rightly said that India is a country which abounds in personal laws. The applicability of personal law in India depends not on nationality or domicile, but on his membership of the community to which he belongs. This law would continue to govern him until he can effectively dissociate himself from his parent community by change of religion or otherwise. A person converting to another religion changes not only his religion, but also his personal law.6 Personal law is that body of laws which apply to a person or thing on the ground of his belonging to or its being associated with a particular religion.7 It has been correctly mentioned that, as far as personal matters are concerned, one cannot be just an Indian, as there is nothing like an Indian law; in these matters one has to belong to some community, one has to be a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, etc.8 Although each of these communities is a religious one, yet it is not necessary that their personal law is essentially religious. As regards the application of different personal laws, the Privy Council had observed as early as 1871 : “While Brahmin, Buddhist, Christian, Mahomedan, Parsi and Sikh are one nation, enjoying equal political rights and having perfect equality before the tribunals, they co-exist as separate and very distinct communities, having distinct laws affecting every relation of life. The law of husband and wife, parent and child, the descent, devolution and disposition of property are all different, depending in each case, on the body to which the individual is deemed to belong, and the difference of religion pervades and governs all domestic usages and social relations.”9 A Committee under the chairmanship of Warren Hastings prepared a scheme for judicial administration on 15th August, 1772. Article XXIII of this (Warren Hastings’) plan provided that in suits regarding inheritance, marriage, caste and other religious usages and institutions, the Law of shastras to the Hindus and Laws of the Koran to the Mohamedans should be applied. Later on, it was provided that on questions not covered by the provisions of Hindu Law or Muslim Law, principles of justice, equity and good conscience may be applied. The principles of English Law were invoked and applied by the judges in exercising other powers under these guidelines. Reiteration of the plan of 1772 as to the application of different personal laws is available in a piece of legislation passed exactly a hundred years later, i.e., the Punjab Laws Act 1872. Section 5 of this Act provided that rule of decisions in questions regarding succession, special property of females, betrothal, marriage, divorce, dower, adoption, guardianship, minority, bastardy, family relations, wills, legacies, gifts, partition or any religious usage or institutions shall be Mohammden Law in cases where parties are Mohammedans and the Hindu Law in cases where parties are Hindus. The Hindu Community has been the recruiting ground of Sikhs right from the beginning. These followers of the Guru (Sikhs) had continued with all their existing customs and traditions in their social and cultural affairs. So, it was but natural that Hindu Law continued to be applicable to them. Theoretically, Hindu Law is of divine origin and, therefore, fixed and immutable. Gradually, this early notion was modified and the conception of positive law was distinguished from divine law. The custom has also played an important role in modifying the Hindu and other personal laws. It has been an established rule of Hindu Law that custom overrides sacred law.10 The High Courts of Calcutta11 and Bombay12 had approvingly quoted the observation of Rattigan in his Law of Divorce that “Personal Law of the parties to marriage means the customary law of the class to which such persons belong.” Punjab Customary Law is a separate body of law which has developed and become applicable to the people of Punjab of different communities. In fact, both the major personal laws operative in India, i.e., Hindu Law and Muslim Law, are claimed to be of divine origin. If these were so, these should have been sacrosanct, inviolable and immutable. But both of these have been amended by the Legislature without bothering about its origin and saved from becoming outdated and outmoded. The codification of these personal laws had been bitterly opposed by religious-minded Hindus. Even the (then) President of India, a staunch Hindu, was said to be reluctant to accord approval to the Hindu Code Bill. Due to severe criticism and stiff opposition from different quarters, Nehru government had to split it up and pass as four different Acts. Sikhism is a modern religion with progressive and scientific outlook. It shows the sagacity and far-sightedness of the founders of Sikhism that they have not subjected them to any civil code which might become outdated after the lapse of some time. Sirdar Kapur Singh, a renowned Sikh scholar and philosopher has also opined, “Sikhism has no corpus of civil law of divine origin.” Thus, there is nothing like Sikh Personal Law of divine origin. For example, holy verses from Guru Granth Sahib which are recited at the time of Anand Karaj (Sikh Marriage) to sanctify the union of the bride and bridegroom, are meant to describe in a figurative way the union of the human soul with the Supreme Being. Due to the non-existence of any personal law of the Sikhs of divine origin and most of the Sikhs being converts from Hinduism, the courts during British rule had been applying that law.13 The Privy Council confirmed this view in the beginning of this century when it held in Rani Bhagwan Koer v. J.C. Bose that ‘Sikh’ was included in ‘Hindu’ within the meaning of Succession Act 1865 and Probate and Administration Act 1881. Sir Arthur Milson observed14 : “There were religious bodies in India, which had, at various periods, and under various circumstances, developed out of, or split off from the Hindu system, but whose members have nevertheless continued to live under Hindu Law. Of these, the Jains and the Sikhs are conspicuous examples. It appears to their lordship to be clear that.... term Hindu is used in same wide sense as in earlier enactments and includes Sikhs. If it be not so, then Sikhs were and are, in matters of inheritance, governed by the Succession Act, an Act based upon, and in the main embodying, the English law; it should not be suggested that such was the intention of the legislature.” We cannot censure the Privy Council for laying down that Hindu Law applies to the Sikhs. In fact, there was a choice before the Privy Council to apply either Hindu Law or English Law of Succession to a Sikh. Third choice in the form of Sikh (personal) Law was not available. The Privy Council, therefore, correctly preferred to apply Hindu Law instead of English Law. So, it can be safely concluded that the Sikhs have been generally governed by customary law in their personal (family) matters, but in the absence of any valid custom, Hindu Law was applicable to them. Codification of Hindu LawThe fundamentalists considered Hindu Law to be of divine origin and, therefore, not subject to any amendment or modification or repeal by any human agency like legislature. This view was not respected by the Indian Government. It was fully appreciated that law cannot be static and it must change according to the needs of the society. The British Government took the initiative of progressive reformation of Hindu Law as early as the middle of the last century. The Hindu Widow’s Remarriage Act was passed in 1856, which legalised the remarriage of Hindu widows. Other notable enactments concerning Hindu Personal Law were the Hindu Gains of Learning Act, 1930, the Hindu Inheritance Act (s) 1928-29, the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937, and the Hindu Married Women’s Right to Separate Residence and Maintenance Act, 1946. A notable piece of legislation applicable only to the Sikhs is the Anand Marriage Act, 1909. Till date, it is the solitary enactment in the area of personal law which is applicable only to the Sikhs. In the mid-fifties, four Acts in the area of Personal Law with the word ‘Hindu’ in their titles have been passed by the Indian Parliament. All these are made applicable to the Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, besides the Hindus. The Sikhs have not reconciled to the application of these Acts, which are named after a community different from their own. They will like to be governed by a separate personal law coined as Sikh Personal Law. They are rightly of the opinion that application of Hindu Law to them gives an impression that Sikhism is not an independent religion and that it is merely an off-shoot of Hinduism. They take it as an attempt to denigrate and subordinate their religion, as the Sikhs are treated or considered as Hindus by these Acts. Various commentators and text book writers with the exception of a very few have also got confused and treated Sikhism as an appendage of Hinduism. Do these Acts strike at the independent status of Sikhism ? Has Sikhism has been treated as an off-shoot of Hinduism ? Can the application of these laws be considered as an attempt to amalgamate and mingle Sikhism into Hinduism ? A deep analysis of the relevant provisions of these Acts can help to find answer to these queries. It may be mentioned at the outset that the term ‘Hindu’ is not defined in section 3 of the Acts where other terms and words used in the Acts are defined. Had ‘Hindu’ been defined as inclusive of Sikhs, answer to all the allegations would have been in the affirmative. All these enactments have included one extra section with the marginal heading, ‘Application of Act’. It is section 2 of Hindu Succession Act 1956, Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,15 which reads as under : Application of Act (1). This Act applies : a) to any person, who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj. b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion, and c) to any other person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu Law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed. 2) ... ... ... 3) The expression ‘Hindu’ in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is nevertheless, a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section. There are three clauses of sub-section (1) of section 3. Clause (a) mentions the application of the Act to Hindus by religion. One may belong to any form or development of Hinduism such as Virashaiva, Lingayat, Brahmo Samaj, Prarthana Samaj or Arya Samaj or any other sect or sub-sect of Hinduism for the application of the Acts. This category includes orthodox Hindus and also those who have modernised themselves by creating or entering some sect or sub-sect. Thus, it includes all the Hindus belonging to various sects, sub-sects, forms, developments, branches or off-shoots of Hinduism. Sikhism is not included in this category. Therefore, Sikhism is not considered as an off-shoot or part or branch of Hinduism by the legislators. Had Sikhism been included in this clause of forms and developments of Hinduism along with Virashaiva, Lingayat, etc., our answer to the queries posed above would have been in the affirmative. Clauses (b) says this Act applies to any person who is Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion. Thus, persons who are Hindus by religion are covered by clause (a) and those who are Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs by religion fall under clause (b). Therefore, it is crystal clear from the bare reading of section 2 (1) (b) of these Acts that Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are separate and independent religions distinct from Hinduism. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has fully approved this view while saying : “A bare perusal of clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (1) of section 2 makes it clear that the Sikh religion, which permits the Anand Karaj form of marriage is treated by the Act as distinct from Hindu religion which does not recognise as valid any marriage ceremony wherein datta homam and sapatpadi are not performed.”16 Clause (c) contains the third miscellaneous category of persons to whom these Acts apply. This includes those who are neither Hindu (as mentioned in clause (a) nor Buddhist, Jain, Sikh (as mentioned in clause (b), Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew (cl. c). Further clarification that Sikhs are not deemed to be included in Hindus as per provisions of the different Hindu enactments and that Sikhism has been treated as a distinct and independent religion is available in sub-clause (3) of section (2). It provides that expression ‘Hindu’ as used in this Act should be understood as inclusive of persons who are not Hindus by religion, but to whom this Act applies. Thus, it is reiterated in this sub-section that these enactments apply to some religious communities who are not Hindus. All the eight religions mentioned in sub-section are independent religions. If Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are governed by a common personal law, it does not mean that all of them are or have become followers of one religion, i.e., Hinduism. Comments of the Supreme Court of India are relevant in this regard : “Even if the religions are different, what is common is that all those who are to be governed by the provisions of these enactments are included in the term Hindu. They are to be governed by the same rules relating to marriage, succession, minority, guardianship, adoption and maintenance as Hindus. The statutes thus accord legislative recognition to the fact that even though Jains may not be Hindus by religion they are to be governed by the same laws as Hindus.”17 The observation of the Supreme Court is directly applicable to the Sikhs and Buddhists also meaning thereby that they are not Hindus. It is, therefore, submitted that minute reading of section 2 of these Acts does not leave any scope for the impression that legislators have attempted to erode the distinct identity of Sikh religion. Rather specific mention of Sikhism as a religion in clause (b) highlights its independent character. It may be relevant to mention that the higher judiciary in India, just like the legislature, is fully aware about the independent identity of Sikhism. Zafar Ali J. of Lahore High Court observed : “Guru Gobind Singh in fact, renounced Hinduism and rejected everything that smacked of it.”18 Similarly, Khundkar J. of Calcutta High Court remarked, “Guru Gobind Singh sought to establish military and political community, which in religious matter, would be self-contained and independent of Hinduism.”19 The Supreme Court20 has also expressed its view : “There are differences between Hindus and Sikhs on some of the essential details of the faiths which they profess and the religious practices they observe. There are also organisational differences in the matter of religious trusts between Hindus and the Sikhs.” Sikhism is neither an off-shoot nor a form or development of Hinduism. It is an independent religion having all the attributes such as its own church, scripture, signs and symbols. The Hindu enactments of 1955-56 have correctly appreciated its independent nature and accepted it as such. It may be of interest to analyse the various family law enactments having the prefix ‘Hindu’ in their title and having application to about 85% of the Indian population, many of whom are not Hindus by religion. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955HMA has been described as momentous experiment which, for width of scope and boldness of innovation, can be compared only with Code Napoleon.21 No doubt, the Act is a milestone in the history of law of marriage, but the question is whether it is really Hindu, as apparent from its title, or not. The traditional Hindu Law considered marriage as a sacrament, provided dominant position to the husband; allowed polygamy and child marriage; prohibited inter-religious, inter-caste, sagotra and saparvara marriages and widow remarriage.22 Divorce was unknown to old Hindu law. The Hindu Marriage Act has brought about significant changes in the traditional law to meet the requirements of the society at its present stage of development. Hindu marriage has become a contractual union just like any Western marriage. The Act requires parties to the marriage to be of sound mind and having freely given consent to it. Divorce is allowed even by mutual consent of the parties. It is desirable that parties are major, i.e., bride is 18 and bridegroom 21 years old. If the bride had not attained the age of 15 at the time of marriage, she is free to repudiate it. Bigamy is absolutely prohibited. The Law no longer favours the males, rather it is the other way round. The Act has completely transformed the Hindu Law of marriage by introducing concepts like nullity of marriage, divorce, judicial separation, curtailing the limits of sapinda relationship and legitimising some categories of children hitherto being considered as illegitimate, etc. The Act has totally drifted away from tenets of Hindu Law. The traditional Hindu Law has died. It is rightly said that if Manu, Yagnavalkya, Brithaspati and Narad now take birth in this country under the process of avagaman, they are bound to mistake their homeland for a foreign country practising strange law of marriage.23 A comparison of Hindu Marriage Act with English Matrimonial Law shows that the former has freely drawn from the latter. The source of almost all the substantial provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act is available in one or the other English Matrimonial Causes Act.24 The HMA 1955 borrowed copiously not only at the time of its enactment, but for its later development and reforms also it has been banking upon the English law. Thus, HMA is a copy of English law and there is not much, which can be termed as purely Hindu. Special Marriage Act, 1954, is a permissive legislation, and is available to all Indians irrespective of religion. HMA 1955 has identical provisions with SMA 1954. Substance and language of various provisions of both the Acts relating to capacity to marry, nullity of marriage, restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, divorce, legitimacy of children, reconciliation, matrimonial bars, maintenance and jurisdiction and procedure are almost the same. As the Hindus can marry under SMA, the Hindu Marriage Act could be easily merged into it, and no justification for having a separate Act seems to be there. There is hardly anything in the HMA which is basically and essentially shastric or Hindu. It is a secular law having hardly any religious or spiritual overtones. It is stuffed with concepts and models of English jurisprudence. Thus, the HMA is Hindu in name only and not in substance. It contains law which suits every modern and progressive Indian.Sikhism, being a modern religion, should not have any inhibition in adopting and following a modern law, if there is nothing which is contrary to the Sikh principles. There is hardly anything in the Act which can be termed as anti-Sikh. Its application cannot be called as application of a law of another religious community. The only irritant is the title of the Act which gives the impression that all those governed by it are Hindus though the provisions in the Act are sufficiently clear to allay such suspicions and apprehensions. The contents of the Act show that it has not been correctly named. It requires a serious effort on the part of the legislature to mingle it with SMA and apply it to all the Indians taking a concrete step towards the Uniform Civil Code. Hindu Succession ActThis Act has replaced the traditional Hindu Law of inheritance. Major change introduced by this Act is to make mother, widow and daughter (unmarried, married or widowed) as equal heirs with the sons in the property of a Hindu or other person to whom this Act applies, if he / she dies intestate. Guru Nanak has been the first reformer in the world to advocate equality between males and females. Equality in status and respect for women are cardinal principles of Sikhism. Therefore, to equate males and females in matters of succession, as is prescribed by the Act, is in accordance with Sikh traditions and principle. On the other hand, it may not tally with Hindu principles where females are always given an inferior position. It is suggested that the remaining provision of male superiority granting him a bigger share out of the coparcenacy property of the deceased should also be amended to ensure complete gender equality. Equal share to brothers and sisters in the father’s property as provided by the Act has caused some practical difficulties for the farming community. It has led to fragmentation of landholdings. The legislative assemblies of Punjab and Haryana, had adopted unanimous resolutions urging the Union Parliament to amend the Act depriving married daughters from inheriting the property of their parents. It cannot be surmised that all the legislators from both the states were pleading the Sikh cause. In fact, it is a common cause of agricultural community irrespective of religion. Another argument against this provision is that it has resulted in disruption of homogeneous rural life. This again is the complaint of all the ruralites and not only of Sikhs amongst them. Such an amendment may be made in deference to the wishes of the farmers and rural people. But this amendment will not render it a peculiar Sikh law of succession, as it equally suits the non-Sikh farmers and ruralites. Thus, the main plank of protagonists of a separate Sikh Personal Law does not plead the cause of Sikhs alone; rather it may smack of anti-Sikhism for being discriminatory to the weaker sex. The problem with this Act is again the same as with the HMA, i.e., of title. There is nothing in the Act which is peculiarly Hindu, the contents of the Act being secular in nature. The title should also give a secular look. Guardianship The Indian Majority Act 1875 and Guardians and Wards Act 1890 are applicable to all the Indians irrespective of their religion or personal law. These Acts continue to be applicable to Hindus and others along with the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956. Section C of the Act says that it shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. The Act of 1956 is essentially a supplement to the Act of 1890, and it also codifies the customary law as to Guardianship. The Hindu Dharamshastras did not deal with the law of guardianship in any detail.25 There is a mention of broad principles such as that king is the guardian of all which was similar to that of English law. Besides, Karta was held to be the guardian of all minor children in the joint Hindu family. Two English authors,26 in their treatises on Hindu Law, had given a list of relatives who could be natural guardians of Hindu minors. The courts during British regime relied on these formulations. But later courts adopted the view that only father and mother could be the natural guardians. Thereafter, testamentary guardians, concept unknown to Hindus, was also introduced on the analogy of English law. Thus, it is clear that law in this field is not based on any Hindu religious texts; rather it is borrowed from English law. The title of Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act also requires the pruning of word ‘Hindu’ from it, so that it may give a secular look. AdoptionAdoption is essentially a Hindu institution. Old Hindu Law regarded it as a sacramental act, prescribed essential ceremony of datta homam, allowed adoption only of son by son-less male Hindu who need not consult his wife, did not allow adoption of a child who was orphan, female, illegitimate or of a different caste, and required that adopter and adoptee’s mother were not within prohibited degree relationship. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, has brought about fundamental changes in classical law of adoption. Adoption now is purely a secular act allowing married and single males and females, who are major and of sound mind, to adopt a minor son and / or a daughter. The widow can give her child in adoption even after her remarriage. Child to be adopted may be orphan, illegitimate, female or of a different caste. A study of the Act shows that it has entirely transformed the traditional Hindu Law which does not find any place in the Act. Adoption has been recognised as a secular institution the world over, and is being used for the welfare of orphans and destitutes. It has now become a part of the legal system of England and some other countries. Sikhs have been using adoption as a secular act since long. It is not required in Sikhism that a (adoptive) son should offer obsequies of the adoptive father and other ancestors to book a seat for them in the heavens. Sikhism is opposed to all such rituals including the sharadha. It also does not emphasise on the necessity of having a son to attain salvation. Thus, the object of adoption in Sikhism is in accordance with that of the Act. Adoption of a female child and allowing adoption to women is also in accordance with the principles of Sikhism which call for equality of males and females. Thus, there is nothing in the Act which is inherently opposed to the Principles of Sikhism. ConclusionSince Sikhism is an independent and distinct religion, why should its followers not be governed by an independent personal law like that of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, etc. ? But there is no Sikh Personal Law of divine origin. Founders of Sikhism had been pragmatic enough not to dabble in the personal law which requires periodical up-dating. Revered Sikh scholar, Sirdar Kapur Singh, has correctly remarked that Sikhism has no corpus of Civil law of divine origin. Unlike other religions of Indian origin, i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, Sikhism does not view renunciation as the highest virtue and worldly power and prosperity as contemptible. Rather, it approves of all the worldly pursuits subject to the basic ideals of Sikhism, i.e., truth, righteousness, freedom, equality, justice and human dignity. All the actions, institutions and laws of the Sikhs should not be violative of any of these ideals of Sikhism. While pleading the enforcement of Article 44 of the Constitution by enactment of a Uniform Civil Code for all the Indians, Justice Kuldip Singh has remarked : “There is no necessary relation between religion and personal law in a civilised society. Article 25 guarantees religious freedom whereas Article 44 seems to divest religion from social relations and personal law.”27 Originally, Hindu Law and Mohammedan Law were comprehensive systems and dealt with all branches of law like criminal law, procedural law, evidence law. The British superseded these by enacting Indian Penal Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, and Indian Evidence Act, but they allowed the religion based family laws to continue as per Warren Hastings’ Plan of 1772. Thus, continuation of indigenous family laws is due to sanction by and under the authority of the state and not due to any inherent religious force. Had the British regime liked, they could have easily replaced it just like criminal law, procedural law and other civil laws. So, the observation of the learned judge that there is no necessary relation between religion and personal law seems to be quite appropriate. Most of the Indian law is based on corresponding British enactments. Hindu Law enactments of 1955-56 are similarly verbatim copies of British laws and ideas. These are ‘Hindu’ in name, but not in content. There is hardly anything which can be termed as violative of Sikh principles. Sikhs object to the application of Hindu Law to them because they do not like to be misunderstood as part of Hinduism, while Hindus feel delighted in considering them as such. The contents of these Acts being not objectionable, Sikhs should emphasise in getting its title changed. While we can share all other laws with Hindus, there need not be any hitch in sharing the personal law also if it is given a secular title. In case the demand for a separate Sikh Personal Law is conceded, it will amount to opening a Pandora’s box. Every Sikh political party and youth organisation, who claim finality in each of their assertions, will unnecessarily be bothered to make suggestions in this regard leading to useless controversies. The community already does not have the unanimous view on certain important points like Ragmala, Nitnem, Mulmantra; so we should avoid adding any new controversy, and rather try to unify the community as far as possible. Besides, we do not have any concrete point which we like to be added or deleted from the existing law. Besides, Sikhism is now a universal religion having its followers in every nook and corner of the world. Any new body of law, like Sikh Personal Law, may not be adopted by them or may not be recognised by the law of the country of their residence. In case separate Sikh Code is enacted and sought to be applied to all Sikhs, it might hinder the growth and propagation of Sikhism. There may be some people who may be attracted towards Sikhism due to its inherent qualities, but may not like the new code. The argument that Sikhs being a predominantly rural and agricultural community requiring a separate personal law to suit their needs is also not a weighty one. It can be easily foreseen that after total mechanisation of agriculture and industrialization of Punjab within the next two to three decades, Sikhs are not likely to continue as agriculturalists and ruralites in greater numbers. Some enlightened Muslims complain that there is a deep mischief on the part of the Indian rulers to keep them backward and retrogressive by not amending and codifying their personal laws like that of the Hindus under the bogey of opposition of ulemas. Such allegations from members of other communities should be a caution for us, so that we do not take any retrogressive step. The Sikhs are having a genuine grievance that Hindu law is applied to them when they are not Hindus. Such a wrong labelling certainly hurts the Sikh psyche. It is unjust on the part of a state, claiming itself to be secular, to compel a minority community to accept a label which affects its independent and distinct nature. It is also violative of freedom of religion. The Indian Government should get the titles of these four Acts changed, so that the Sikhs are not compelled to reject these in toto.     Harminder Singh Ahluwalia   Contact: hsahluwalia8@gmail.com    

Harminder Singh Ahluwalia
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