SGPC heading towards a crisis?

Amritsar, Punjab: With the newly elected SGPC House caught in legal tangle over the Sehajdhari issue, the premier Sikh body seems to be heading towards a crisis and may find it difficult to pass its annual budget in March.

The annual budget of the SGPC has to be passed by its executive as well as the General House before March 31. The SGPC needs to issue notices to its members informing them about the Budget Session 21 days in advance after getting it passed from the executive. However, the executive of the newly elected SGPC House is yet to be formed. This means the SGPC has now less than a month left to get its executive in place and the annual budget passed by it. The executive is formed alongside the election of the new office-bearers, a process which is getting delayed due to the ongoing legal process over the Sehajdhari row.

Though the SGPC election process got completed with the issuance of a notification of the new SGPC House on December 16, following the elections on September 18 and co-option on December 5, the Union government hasn’t given a green signal to the SGPC session for electing its new office-bearers.

As per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, the elections of the new office-bearers should be held within a month of the notification of the new House. Going by the norm, the meeting of the new House to elect the office-bearers should have been called by January 15. SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh said they were in a tight spot as the time for the budget session was fast approaching. However, he clarified they had set the ball rolling as far as the preparation of the annual SGPC budget was concerned. He hoped they would get some respite from either the court or the government to facilitate smooth passage of the budget.

Dalmegh Singh said apart from the budget, they were also finding it difficult to run their day-to-day affairs due to the delay in the election of the new SGPC team. “We are managing the work by keeping the nod for various expenses pending. For instance, we have already organised Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib and Maghi Mela at Muktsar Sahib in the absence of necessary sanction for expenditure made in holding these events and now we may have to do the same on Baisakhi if the new SGPC team is not elected by then,” he said.

According to him, the SGPC president has the powers to sanction a maximum of Rs 25,000 and any amount above it has to be sanctioned by the SGPC executive.

Noted lawyer HS Phoolka said the court had not quashed the recent SGPC elections and, therefore, the Centre could call a session of the new SGPC House to elect its office-bearers.

However, former Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission chairman Kashmir Singh Patti said the SGPC could not pass the annual budget in the current scenario.

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