Allow plea against High Court order on Sehajdharis Sikhs: SGPC to SC

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The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) has moved the Supreme Court in the light of the new law taking away the Sehajdhari Sikhs’ right to vote in the SGPC elections.In its application, the SGPC has pleaded with the SC to allow its appeal against the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment restoring Sehajdhari Sikhs’ right to vote. The case is likely to be taken up for hearing tomorrow.The SGPC contended that Parliament had recently amended the Gurdwara Act, 1925, excluding the Sehajdhari Sikhs from the electoral process and the Centre had notified the amended law on May 5 after getting the Presidential assent.The amended law had addressed all deficiencies pointed out by the HC in its December 20, 2011 verdict quashing the Centre’s October 8, 2003 notification disenfranchising the Sehajdharis, the SGPC maintained.The HC had mainly taken exception to the fact that the voting rights granted under the law was sought to be taken away through an official notification by the Centre. The HC had clarified that this right could be denied only under a law duly passed by a competent legislature.The SGPC pleaded with the SC to pass an order in its favour in view of the new law, advocate Satinder S Gulati said.On March 30, 2013, the SC had asked the November 2010 executive committee headed by Avtar Singh Makkar to manage the gurdwaras and other institutions of the SGPC as the Sehajdharis had not been allowed to participate in the election of the new board in September 2011. All parties to the case had given their consent to the interim solution offered by the Bench as no other alternative was in sight. The SGPC elections are held every five years.In view of the HC verdict and the SC’s September 2011 order, the Centre was reluctant to convene the first meeting of the 170-member SGPC board and came to the SC seeking its clarification despite notifying the new board on December 17, 2011. The SGPC also approached the apex court, seeking a direction to the Centre to convene the first meeting of the new board, thereby facilitate the election of its office-bearers — – president, senior vice-president, junior vice-president, general secretary and 11 executive committee members.

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