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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Akal Takht jathedar's authority challenged

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, October 09, 2013
First Published: 23:47 IST(9/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:00 IST(10/10/2013)

For the first time, a petition has been filed challenging an order and, thereby, the authority of the jathedar of Akal Takht, highest temporal seat of Sikhs. It came up for hearing in the Delhi high court on Tuesday and was adjourned for October 23.

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The petition that came up before the bench of justice Kailash Gambhir and justice Indermeet Kaur stated that the jathedar interfered in the system of justice. The court, so far, has issued no notice against anyone.

Filed by a man named Jatinder Singh, the petition has not made the jatehdar a respondent but said that his forcing former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Paramjit Singh Sarna to withdraw his writ petition in the Delhi high court against building the 1984 riots' memorial in Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib in Delhi amounted to criminal contempt of court.

The petition makes Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal; Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar; and DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK respondents. It stated that the three had directed the Akal Takht jathedar to order Sarna to withdraw the writ petition, and so should be punished for contempt of court.

On July 26, Sarna had appeared before the Takht and accepted to withdraw his petition. On June 12, the DSGMC had laid the foundation stone of the memorial dedicated to Sikhs killed in the 1984 riots, and Sarna had moved the Delhi high court, arguing that it couldn't be built inside a gurdwara.

On June 15, the Takht summoned Sarna on the issue of his objection. Defending the respondents, lawyer HS Phoolka told the court that contempt was not maintainable because the Takht could intervene in religious matters. GK has called the new petition most shocking for the Sikh community.

Questioning the role of a standing counsel of the Delhi government who gave approval for filing the contempt petition, GK said the Congress had been making continuous efforts to undermine the Takht's authority. "It is first time that anyone has alleged in court that the Akal Takht jathedar has committed criminal contempt," he added.

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