The Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, has welcomed the passage of the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill 2016 by the state Vidhan Sabha that will strength the hands of the government and the law enforcing agencies in dealing effectively with cases of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.
The Bill, which paves the way for giving life imprisonment in sacrilege cases of the Sikh scripture, was passed by the Vidhan Sabha on Monday. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Akal Takht had been calling for changes in the law in cases involving the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.
This demand arose after a number of cases involving sacrilege of the scripture inside gurdwaras were reported from all over Punjab. The cases led to widespread criticism of the state government and the police for failing to check such cases.
“This Bill needs to be passed urgently and made a part of our legal system so that those accused in such cases are put behind bars for the rest of their lives. A number of cases that occurred in the recent past are pending in the courts and those accused need to be given stringent punishment,” Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh stated here on Tuesday.
In a statement, the jathedar praised chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for having taken the step to deal effectively with sacrilege cases involving the Guru Granth Sahib. The incidents that occurred last year had hurt Sikh sentiments, he added while pointing out some of the accused in the cases had been apprehended by the police and were awaiting trial or had been put on trial.
“I think this new law will keep a check on sacrilege cases involving our scripture,” he added.