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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Eye on elections in Haryana, Congress ready to enact law

Hitender Rao , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 02, 2014
First Published: 12:24 IST(2/7/2014) | Last Updated: 12:32 IST(2/7/2014)

The ruling Congress in Haryana is poised to enact a legislation to establish a separate Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in the state. However, the move riddled with complexities will not fructify unless the Central government accords its assent, legal experts say.

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The report of the committee constituted under the chair manship of Haryana cabinet minister, Harmohinder Singh Chatha, to consider the setting up of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) will form the guiding principle for the establishment of the HSGPC.

The committee which finalised its report in 2005 had recommended that the state assembly can enact a legislation to set up a separate body to manage gurdwaras. But the report also mentions the concurrence of the central government and assent of the President is required for the state legislation to override the central legislation —the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925— the law which enables Amritsar based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to control all historical and new Sikh shrines. Legal experts say the idea of overriding the central law, however, is controversial.

Though the state government had constituted a committed headed by Haryana advocate general, HS Hooda, to legally examine the report, the committee is yet to do so.

REORGANISATION ACT

Section 72 (1) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, which speaks about general provisions regarding statutory corporations, says that where a body corporate constituted under a central, state or provincial Act for the existing state of Punjab or any part thereof serves the needs of the successor states or by virtue of the provisions of Part II (reorganisation of state of Punjab) has become an inter-state body corporate then this body shall continue to function and operate in those areas in respect of which it was functioning and operating immediately before that day subject to such directions as may from time to time be issued by the Central government until other provision is made by law in respect of the said body corporate. “This explains the powers to make law in this regard vests with the Centre,” said a lawyer. The Act says that any direction issued by the Centre with regard to such body corporate may include a direction that any law by which the said body is governed shall in its application to that body corporate have effect subject to such exceptions and modifications as may be specified in the direction.

It further says that for the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that the provisions of this section shall apply also to Punjab University constituted under the Punjab University Act, 1947, the Punjab Agricultural University constituted under the Punjab Agricultural University Act, 1961 and the Board constituted under the provisions Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.

TWO-PRONGED CONTENTION

The Chatha report has based its recommendations primarily on two aspects – provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1996 and matters listed in the state and concurrent list under the seventh schedule of the Constitution.

The Chatha Committee has said that section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act has an enabling provision for setting up a separate SGPC.

STATE, CONCURRENT LISTS

Citing items number 32 and 28 enumerated in the state and concurrent lists respectively under the seventh schedule of the Constitution, the Chatha committee has said in its report that the state legislature can enact a legislation even on central subjects mentioned in the concurrent list. Item number 32 in the state list deals with incorporation, regulation and winding up of corporations other than those specified in Union list and universities; unincorporated trading, literary, scientific, religious and other societies and associations; co-operative societies.

Item number 28 in the concurrent list deals with charities and charitable institutions, charitable and religious endowments and religious institutions.

LAW PREVAILS

Despite the support found by Chatha Committee in Punjab Reorganisation Act and matters enumerated in the state and concur rent list, the theory of overriding the Sikh Gurdwaras Act — a central legislation — does not hold ground.

Article 254 of the Constitution lays down that law made by Parliament will prevail if any provision of the law made by state legislature is repugnant to any provision of the law made by Parliament or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the concurrent list.

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