Dal Khalsa, a radical Sikh group, has demanded framing of certain procedures which should be strictly followed while appointing or removing the jathedars of five Sikh Takhts.
The Dal Khalsa made this demand while referring to the unsavoury situation that was created on the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh at Patna in Bihar on January 7.
The supporters of Giani Iqbal Singh, the jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib, clashed with the supporters of the members of the managing committee of the Takht over the sudden appointment of Giani Partap Singh as additional head granthi of the Takht.
"This clash on an auspicious occasion at a historical place has caused deep embarrassment to the Sikh community. It has shaken people's trust in religious leaders and institutions," said Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh in a statement issued here.
It has urged Akal Takht jathedar Gaini Gurbachan Singh to initiate the process to define norms and rules for appointing jathedars.
There are no laid procedures for the appointment of jathedars to the Akal Takht in Amritsar, Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo, Takht Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib, Takht Patna Sahib at Patna and Takht Hazoor Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra.
The Dal Khalsa feels that the Akal Takht head can lay down rules and regulations in consultation with the executive committees of bodies like the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC), Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and the management committees of Takht Hazoor Sahib and Takht Patna Sahib.
Kanwarpal was of the view that ignoring merit while appointing Sikh high priests created a crisis.
He said despite the occurrence of such incidents, no set rules and procedures have been framed on the appointment, removal, working sphere and jurisdiction of heads of these temporal institutions.
Certain "arbitrary" decisions taken by the Takht jathedars under pressure from their appointing authorities have eroded their credibility, he added.
"The Akalis continue to dabble in gurdwara affairs and politics despite having dropped their 'panthic agenda'," he said.
He said jathedars were appointed in consultation with certain Sikh institutions and after soliciting the views of some eminent personalities in the past. However, political leaders now select only those who will dance to their tune, he added.
"The manner in which jathedars such as Bhai Ranjit Singh, Giani Puran Singh and Giani Joginder Singh Vidanthi were removed demonstrates the kind of stranglehold Akali politicians have over such important religious posts. Even the SGPC has always shrugged off from codifying the post of Takht jathedar so as to keep it under its tight control for vested interests," he added.
SGPC contests Dal Khalsa's claims
The SGPC has contested the Dal Khalsa's claims that there are no rules for the appointment or removal of jathedars.
SGPC officials said for the three Takhts-Akal Takht, Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Keshgarh Sahib- certain procedures and norms are followed. All the three Takhts are under the SGPC control while the other two have their individual management committees.
Officials said an Akal Takht jathedar was appointed only after obtaining the consent of different Sikh religious organisations or groups, including those part of the Sant Samaj.