The ongoing heated debate pertaining to the voting rights of Sehajdhari Sikhs in the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee(SGPC) elections reached the Apex Court on Friday with the filing of a special leave petition by Sehajdhari Sikh Federation seeking stay on the Punjab and Haryana high court orders. The case is said to be listed for Wednesday for hearing.
Aggrieved by the high court’s full bench order of September 6, in which it had suspended its September 1 order dismissing three petitions related to the issue after a wrong statement by a senior advocate, the Federation chose to move the Supreme Court.
Looking suspiciously at the union government’s entire exercise, the petitioner in the SLP held that it was “patently motivated by the political exigency of the situation” to deprive the Sehajdharis of their voting rights enjoyed by them for over half a century.
Also the high court could not have ignored the fact that the writ petition has been pending since January 2002 and an order was passed in the context of election process which was to be started in May 21, 2004 that the same should be subject to outcome of the petition, the petitioner states.
The Federation has added that more than 7 years have elapsed after passing of the interim order which was more than sufficient time for the union government to take a decision with regard to notification on the eligibility of such candidates to be electors in SGPC elections under Sikh Gurudwara Act 1925.
Challenging the notification of October 8, 2003, that the voting right was conferred on Sehajdhari Sikhs through an amendment of Sikh Gurudwara Act, 1925, the same could not be taken away by a notification issued by executive without any reference to competent legislative authority, the petitioner further held.
Also, the union government had created confusion in disowning the statement made by senior advocate Harbhagwan Singh who appeared along with 3 senior panel lawyers and 4 other junior lawyers duly appointed by it, he added.
“The statement obviously has been made as a face saving device for Union of India on the basis of which the civil writ petition as well as reference to full bench was rendered infructuous,” the SLP reads.
The Federation has also countered the union home minister’s statement that no vakalatnama (power of attorney) was signed for Harbhagwan’s appearance, that shows government’s desperation with which it chose to “approbate and reprobate and commit flip flop” before the full bench of the high court. Furthermore, it has been stated that the home minister is well aware that a senior advocate cannot sign a vakalatnama and under the Advocates Act, he can only appear on instruction of junior counsel/ briefing counsel.