The Haryana government may be looking to announce a separate gurdwara management body for the state shortly, dissecting it from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), but legal experts see that path blocked.
The Punjab State Reorganisation Act of 1966 makes it clear that even with the separating of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, the SGPC would keep functioning as before.
“Section 72 of the Act leaves no room for confusion. The power to modify the Act rests with the Centre,” senior advocate Gurminder Singh has said.
“Religion was on the Constitution’s Concurrent List, on which the states can pass a law but, when there is a Central act already, can’t have overriding powers,” the legal expert said, clarifying on Haryana’s possible move of bringing in a state legislation for a separate gurdwara body.
In the views of separatebody campaigner Didar Singh Nalvi, Haryana is empowered for a separate legislation, as a provision in the 1966 Act allows it. Another legal expert said it was clear in the act that Panjab University, Punjab Agricultural University, and the SGPC constituted under the All-India Gurdwara Act of 1925 couldn’t be divided among the states after the breaking of original Punjab.
The act says that post Punjab reorganisation, the SGPC would become an inter-state body, “and from the appointed day continue to function in those areas in respect of which it operated immediately before, subject to directions from the central government and until law makes other provisions”.
Seven Sikh shrines in Haryana are cate gorised under Section 85 of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act of 1925, (an act of Parliament).
“All these gurdwaras came under the SGPC control from time to time after clearance from the Centre, so how could the shrines be now taken out of its control without the intervention of the central government,” said legal expert Gurminder Singh.