The debate whether the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, passed by the Haryana assembly on Friday can override the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, and needs Presidential assent continues to rage.
While chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda categorically said there was no need to send the bill for the Presidential assent and the state assembly was competent to enact the law, the state government’s law department in April 2005 had offered a different point of view.
A former joint legal remembrancer (opinion), Jagdeep Jain said in his note that though the Haryana assembly has the power to enact a law to form a separate gurdwara managing committee, the bill would need the Presidential assent. “Since the effect of the bill would be to divest the existing SGPC of the management and control over Sikh gurdwaras and their properties in Haryana, it would need the consent of the President,” Jain wrote in his note.
The bill says all moveable and immoveable gurdwara property and all interests of whatsoever nature belonging or due to the Punjab Sikh Gurdwara Board, immediately before such establishment shall with all rights, powers and privileges of whatsoever description, used, enjoyed or possessed by the said board vest in the Haryana committee and the executive board to be constituted under Section 16 of the Haryana bill. While the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, passed by the House provides for an overriding effect on Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, legal experts question whether this was possible in view of the fact the Act of 1925 had been amended by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) notifications on several occasions. “Whether Section 54 (1) of the bill, which says that provisions of Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, shall cease to have any application within the territory of Haryana is legally tenable or not,” said a legal expert.
Also, questions are being asked as whether the patronage and guidance regarding matters of temporal affairs of Amritsar-based Darbar Sahib and five takhts — which are a part of the board under the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 — will be rendered to the historical and new gurdwaras in Haryana, which are proposed to be covered by the Haryana bill.
The five takhts are Akal Takht, Amritsar; Takht Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Patna Sahib, Hazoor Sahib, Nanded; and Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo.