The Election Commission of India (EC) on Thursday told the Delhi high court that a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking cancellation of registration of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) be dismissed.
A bench of chief justice G Rohini and justice RS Endlaw was told by the counsel for EC that the poll panel did not want to file their replies as the allegation levelled in the petition that SAD was "a religious organisation and not a secular political party", was "baseless". Socialist Party of India vice-president Balwant Singh Khera had alleged that the SAD had obtained its registration by "fraud" and it should be cancelled.
To this, advocate Indira Unninayar, appearing for Khera, opposed the EC submission, saying they were earlier willing to file their replies but now they are not, so the court should issue suo motu contempt proceedings against the poll panel for not replying to the PIL, she said. The counsel said neither the EC, nor the SAD had filed replies to the plea which had been filed in 2010.
Taking note of the submissions, the court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on May 21.
Khera has underlined that the SAD had signed an undertaking at the time of its registration to uphold the Constitution. "One of those undertakings is that it shall be secular, but its activities are not secular in nature," the petition said, pointing towards the party's admitted participation in gurdwara elections.
Khera in his plea claimed that his right to equality and non-discrimination guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution, and the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25, were being repeatedly violated as "religion is being admittedly introduced into the politics of Punjab by SAD, yet the state through its authorised body (EC) has repeatedly refused to take necessary action to restore/guard these rights".
"They (SAD members) have been contesting gurdwara committee elections as a religious body, and their party specifies that all members must be practising Sikhs," said the plea.