3 years on, SGPC House in a limbo

Amritsar, Punjab: Three years after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections were held, the fate of the new House continues to hang in balance due to legal wrangling over voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs. The House has already lost three of its five-year tenure to the controversy.

At present, the SGPC executive committee of 2010 is managing the day-to-day affairs of the premiere Sikh body as per the directions of the Supreme Court, which is hearing the case.

Even the annual budget for the last three years could not be presented and approved in the SGPC General House and was passed by the executive committee. As such, there is disappointment in the new members who were elected in 2011.

Bhai Manjeet Singh, first-time member, said, “We urge the Supreme Court to expedite the hearing of the case as we have already lost more than half the term. All the new members were excited that they will get an opportunity to serve the community. But the legal tangle has dashed our hopes.”

Similarly, another SGPC member, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, said, “Now that the NDA government has been formed at the Centre, the Akali Dal should urge it to remove the procedural anomaly and get the Act, barring the Sehajdharis from voting in the SGPC elections, framed.”

She said this would pave the way for the constitution of the new SGPC House for which elections and co-option of members took place three years ago. The SGPC elections were held on September 18, 2011, which was followed by co-option of 15 members on December 5, 2011. However, the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s December 20, 2011, verdict quashing the 2003 notification barring Sehajdharis from voting plunged the new House into a crisis.

The SGPC challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court. Hearing the petition on March 30, 2012, the apex court allowed the old SGPC executive (elected in November 2010) to manage gurdwaras and institutions under the SGPC till further orders.

The court also stated that the House 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 High Court verdict restoring the voting rights of Sehajdharis. The apex court admitted the SGPC plea challenging the High Court verdict in October last year.

Source: The Tribune

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