Sikh24.com – Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act-2016: High Court issues notice to Indian and Punjab governments

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh-Panjab, 28 May 2017. Acting on the petition moved by Sehajdhari Sikh Party, the Punjab & Haryana High Court has issued notice to the Union government of India as well as the State government of Punjab to clarify their stance on Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act, 2016.

The High Court bench comprising Justices Mahesh Grover and Shekher Dhawan has sought response from the duo governments by August 10.

It may be recalled here that the BJP led Union government of India had ousted the Sehajdhari Sikhs from the voting process of apex Sikh body SGPC by cancelling their voting rights through Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act, 2016.

Near about 7 million Sehajdhari Sikh voters are learnt to have lost voting right in SGPC elections with amendment into the Sikh Gurdwara Act.

By moving a Public Interest Litigation in Punjab & Haryana High Court, the Sehajdhari Sikh Party argued that neither proper facts nor any figures were placed before the home minister Rajnath Singh to take such a hasty decision.

The Sehajdhari Sikh Party further claimed that the decision to enact Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act, 2016 was a politically motivated step.

The Sehajdhari Sikh Party contended before the Court that it was not borne in mind that by amending the Act, more than 70 lakh Sehajdhari Sikhs were being deprived of their voting rights. In the amendment bill, the “objects” were given but no “reasons” were forthcoming which were mandatory for the bill.

It should have been mentioned why the exemption given to Sehajdhari Sikhs was being removed, especially when this right was conferred on them by competent legislature after due deliberations in 1944 by amending the Gurdwara Act, the petition further states.

The Sehajdhari Sikh Party has demanded quashing of the amendment by which the provision of Section 49 and 92 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, has been changed retrospectively from October 8, 2003, by removing the exemption given to the Sehajdhari Sikhs.

“There ought to have been some material or cogent reasons or change in circumstance before the NDA government to undertake this action. It was a clear case of political expediency and appeasement,” the petitioner stated.

The petitioner has also party also sought direction for update of the voters list of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee by including the Sehajdhari Sikhs and to hold fresh elections for constitution of the SGPC.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/05/28/sikh-gurdwara-amendment-act-2016-high-court-issues-notice-to-indian-and-punjab-governments/#.WSuiy8YlHIU

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