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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, September 24, 2013
The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab government, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara to suggest names of some learned people from outside the state so as to study the content of Bhaniara's controversial banned book Bhavsagar Samundar Amarbani Granth.

The directions came from the full bench comprising justices Surya Kant, Jitendra Chauhan and Surinder Gupta when the Punjab government informed the court that it had objections to the book's release.

The state government had imposed a ban on the book on December 15, 2008. Baba Bhaniara had moved the high court challenging the state government's notification imposing the ban. The book was opposed by many members of the Sikh community on the grounds that the Baba was equating himself with the Sikh Gurus.

It would be for the second time that an experts' committee would be constituted by the high court to study Bhaniara's book. Earlier, in its report already submitted to the high court on June 3 last year, four of the five-member expert committee constituted on the court's order had justified the ban on the book.

But since the state government had challenged the high court's order of the constitution of the experts' committee, the Supreme Court had set aside the high court order last year.

During hearing of the case on Monday, appearing for Bhaniara, advocate Vishu Bhagwan Aggarwal argued that earlier the experts' committee was having members influenced by the Punjab government.

Hence, this time, the committee should include members from outside the state. He also submitted that Bhaniara was ready to remove objectionable content from the book as per Punjab government. But the state government said that no purpose would be solved by deleting some content as the book had inter-related articles.

Also, on May 13, the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Ambala, had sentenced Baba Bhaniara and seven others to three years' jail on the charges of promoting religious enmity by burning pages of Guru Granth Sahib in 2001.

The case would now come up for hearing on November 22.