Sehajdhari voting row: High court issues notice to Centre, Punjab govt | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Sehajdhari voting row: High court issues notice to Centre, Punjab govt

The high court bench of justice Mahesh Grover and justice Shekher Dhawan has sought the response by August 10 on the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Sehajdhari Sikh Party challenging the Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act, 2016.

punjab Updated: May 27, 2017 09:39 IST
HT Correspondent
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The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and Punjab government on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of a legislation that barred “sehajdhari” (non-baptised) Sikhs from voting in polls to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex Sikh religious body.

The high court bench of justice Mahesh Grover and justice Shekher Dhawan has sought the response by August 10 on the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Sehajdhari Sikh Party challenging the Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act, 2016.

The legislation was enacted by Parliament, which barred 70 lakh “sehajdhari” Sikhs from voting in the SGPC elections.

It was argued that neither proper facts nor any figures were placed before the home minister to take such “a drastic step just to further political cause of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner Shiromani Akali Dal led by Parkash Singh Badal”.

The public interest litigation contended that it was not borne in mind that by amending the Act, more than 70 lakh “sehajdhari” Sikhs were being deprived of their voting rights. In the amendment bill, the “objects” were given but no “reasons” were forthcoming which were mandatory for the bill. It should have been mentioned why the exemption given to “sehajdhari” Sikhs was being removed, especially when this right was conferred on them by competent legislature after due deliberations in 1944 by amending the Gurdwara Act, the petition further states.

The Sehajdhari Sikh Party demanded quashing of the amendment by which the provision of Section 49 and 92 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, has been changed retrospectively from October 8, 2003, by removing the exemption given to the “sehajdhari” Sikhs.

“There ought to have been some material or cogent reasons or change in circumstance before the NDA government to undertake this action. It was a clear case of political expediency and appeasement,” the petitioner stated.

The petitioner party also sought direction for update of the voters list of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee by including the “sehajdhari” Sikhs and to hold fresh elections for constitution of the SGPC.