SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar’s assertion that Haryana government would have a direct control on the donations, assets and management of Sikh shrines as the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill 2014 was a Money Bill, looks patently flawed.
A half page advertisement issued by SGPC in a Punjabi newspaper on July 19 said the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill was a Money Bill which meant the state government would have all the rights on the ‘golak’ or remittances, properties and financial accounts of the Gurdwaras. The entire collection would be routed to the state exchequer, it reads. However, legal experts point out that SGPC’s interpretation was absolutely incorrect.
Senior lawyer in Punjab and Haryana high court, Anupam Gupta, said that the Haryana Act is definitely not a Money Bill as constitutionally defined. As per Articles 110 and 199 of the Constitution, a Money Bill is a bill that deals exclusively with taxes or payments, withdrawal or appropriation of moneys into or from the consolidated fund.
“Only two out 55 sections of Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Act relate to such a matter. These are specified in the financial memorandum attached with the bill. Section 46 envisages expenditure from the Haryana government treasury on the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission and Section 50 envisages such expenditure on the establishment of Gurdwara Election Commission.
In view of these two sections involving expenditure from the consolidated fund of the state, the Haryana Act is covered by Article 207 (3) of the Constitution. In terms of legislative procedure and semantics, it is not a Money Bill but a financial bill. All Money Bills are necessarily financial bills but all financial bills are not Money Bills,’’ Gupta said.
GURDWARA FUND AND ACCOUNT
While it seems that Haryana law department which vetted the bill erroneously certified it as a Money Bill, the SGPC’s argument that the donations offered in Haryana Sikh shrines will be under the control of Haryana government too look way off the mark. Section 25 of the Act clearly say there shall be a gurdwara fund and all receipts and income of the gurdwaras and its properties shall be credited to the account of gurdwara fund in a properly maintained bank account as per the rules. It also says that gurdwara fund shall be held by the committee and shall not be utilised for any other purpose other than the one authorised by this Act. Section 26 of the Act says that no money out of the gurdwara funds shall be appropriated except as provided in the manner prescribed under the Act without proper approval of the committee.
Senior advocate ML Sarin says that Section 25 clearly provided that all receipts and income of the gurdwaras and their properties shall be credited to the account of gurdwara fund to be held by the committee. Hence there is no question of the offerings going to the state government, he said.