Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, sacked jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, has challenged the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) decision in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The court listed his petition for hearing on Monday before the bench of justice AG Masih, but as lawyers were on a nationwide strike, the hearing was adjourned for Tuesday. Appointed in January 2003, Nandgarh was removed as jathedar this January 17 for his opposing the Bikrami (Hindu) calendar for Sikhs and speaking in favour of the Nanakshahi calendar.
He wants the SGPC resolution about his sacking quashed and his services as jathedar restored. He argued that since the SGPC had issued no notice to seek his version, its order passed in an executive-board meeting without prior notice was illegal. The sacking order came to him on January 19, post this meeting, Nandgarh has submitted in his petition.
He has also submitted that under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, the SGPC executive committee has no powers to remove the head minister/ minister/jathedar except under two sections that did not apply in his case.
He argued that the Akal Takht jathedar was required to take these decisions after consulting the jathedars of the other Sikh temporal seats at Damdama Sahib, Keshgarh Sahib, Hazur Sahib and Patna Sahib.
“The SGPC is only a part of the Panth. Jathedars regulate the diverse Sikh opinion in Punjab, others states, and across the world,” Nandgarh stated in his petition, adding that there were no guidelines or procedure of appointment and powers of duties prescribed for any of the Takhts; in practice therefore, it was believed that these rights and duties were beyond those prescribed under the Act.
In January, the high court had refused to intervene in the tussle between Nandgarh and the SGPC over Nanakshahi Calendar. A public-interest petition to thwart the SGPC from sacking Nandgarh was dismissed, stating that no public interest was involved. The petitioner had alleged that Nandgarh had been sacked for opposing the Bikrami calendar and supporting the Nanakshahi calendar and its amended version.