HSGMC president Jagdish Singh Jhinda (C) along with his team members pays obeisance at the Golden Temple

Sikh Gurdwara Act Central or provincial subject, asks HC

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court today wanted to know whether the Sikh Gurdwara Act was enacted as a Central or provincial subject. The Act was enacted nearly 90 years ago.

Acting on a petition filed in public interest against the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act, 2014, the High Court asked the parties to “apprise as to whether the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, was enacted as a Central or provincial subject in terms of Section 45-A of the Government of India Act, 1919, or as a reserved or the transferred subject in terms of Section 46 of the Government of India Act, 1919”.

The Division Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Arun Palli also issued notice of motion to eight respondents, including Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. The other respondents put on notice include the Union of India, Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). The Bench fixed September 5 as the next date of hearing.

In his petition, Fatehgarh Sahib-based advocate Ram Singh Somal asserted that the Haryana Legislative Assembly was not competent to enact the Act. He said the SGPC became an inter-state body corporate with the reorganisation of the Punjab state through the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966. He said any law regarding the incorporation, regulation and its winding could exclusively be passed by Parliament.

The Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 assumed the character of a Central Act with the reorganisation, he said, adding: “In the present case, the Central government amended the Sikh Gurdwara Act from time to time by issuing various notifications. The Haryana Legislative Assembly did not have the legislative competence to exclude the operation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act in Haryana, which amounts to repeal of the Act as far as Haryana is concerned. Only Parliament has the legislative competence to do so.”

Petitioner’s counsel Harchand Singh Bath said: “The provisions of the Gurdwara Management Act are repugnant to the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, which has been amended by Parliament from time to time after the Punjab Reorganisation Act came into force and is, thus, a law made by Parliament. Therefore, the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Act is void…”

The petition

In his petition, Fatehgarh Sahib-based advocate Ram Singh Somal asserted that the Haryana Legislative Assembly was not competent to enact the Act. He said the SGPC became an inter-state body corporate with the reorganisation of Punjab through the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966. Any law regarding the incorporation, regulation and its winding could be passed by Parliament, he added.

Source: The Tribune

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