Sehajdhari Sikhs on Tuesday protested against a bill passed by Parliament which excludes them from voting in the elections to Sikh religious bodies saying it will take a legal action as it prevents 70 lakh community members from exercising their franchise.
“We will take a legal recourse as the bill is against our voting rights,” Sehajdhari Sikh leader Paramjit Singn Ranu said here after a meeting.
Parliament passed the bill on Monday to amend a 91-year-old law to exclude Sahajdharis from voting in the elections to Sikh religious bodies, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the community ahead of assembly elections in Punjab next year.
Ranu alleged the bill was sponsored by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to maintain its control of SGPC.
“It is a political move and it has cultural implications which will divide Sikh minority into a sub minority,” he said.
Criticising both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha for passing the the bill without waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision where an appeal had been filed, Ranu termed the bill as “unconstitutional”.
“Passing such a bill is illegal and unconstitutional. By this discrimination against a particular section of the Sikh community, the bill will further divide the Sikhs,” he said.
“We will wait for the Supreme Court decision and also adopt all legal measures against the passage of the bill,” Ranu said.
The Sikh Gurudwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday more than a month after Rajya Sabha approved it.
The definition of Sehajdhari Sikh has no religious sanction as far as the fundamental tenets of the religion are concerned. This nomenclature was added to the Sikh Gurudwaras Act, 1925 under certain circumstances prevailing then.
The bill proposes to remove the exception given to Sahejdharis in 1944 to vote in elections to select members of the Board and the Committees constituted under the Act.