R Sedhuraman & Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
New Delhi/Amritsar, March 30. Putting the newly elected Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) board in limbo, the Supreme Court today allowed the executive committee constituted in November 2010 with Avtar Singh Makkar as its president to manage gurdwaras and institutions under the SGPC till further orders.
SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar has welcomed the judgment. He said it would bring back on the track the SGPC affairs that had been adversely affected due to delay in holding elections of the board office-bearers.
Passing the order, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale observed that the board elected in September 2011 without Sehajdhari Sikhs’ participation could not be allowed to hold its first meeting and elect office-bearers in the light of the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict restoring the voting rights of Sehajdharis.
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation (SSF) headed by Dr PS Ranu had come to the apex court opposing the SGPC poll.
The apex court, on September 20, 2011, allowed the holding of the election, clarifying that the results would be subject to the HC verdict on the voting rights to the Sehajdharis.
The HC delivered its judgment on December 20, 2011, quashing the October 8, 2003, notification of the Central Government that disenfranchised the Sehajdharis. The HC, however, did not clarify the status of the newly elected SGPC board.
In view of the HC verdict and the SC order, the Centre was reluctant to convene the first meeting of the new SGPC board and came to the SC seeking its clarification despite notifying the 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 facilitating election of its office-bearers.
The SGPC had contended that unless the executive committee was put in place immediately, the functioning of 111 colleges, schools, hospitals and 78 gurdwaras run by it would come to a grinding halt as the 2012-13 budget had to be passed before the April 1 deadline.
During the arguments today, the Bench acknowledged that the “very legality of the new board has become suspect and the election has been rendered bad in law” in the light of the HC verdict and the September 2011 SC order.
The police foiled a bid by 31 members of the SGPC House of 2004 to hold a budget meeting in Amritsar
Members gathered at SAD (1920) senior vice-president Raghubir Singh Rajasansi’s house, but the police didn’t allow them to to leave the place
Later, a resolution was passed on the lines of the SC verdict