With the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) involved in a legal tangle with the Sehajdhari Federation and also owing to the expiry of the July 31 deadline, the SGPC executive approved the budgetary proposals (expenditure) of the religious body for the remaining financial year.
The executive had on April 3 approved an expenditure of Rs 221.82 crore for the first four months of the fiscal year, that is till July 31. This is for the first time in the history of the SGPC that a full budget was not passed in March by the general house.
The executive met at its headquarters in the Golden Temple complex here on Friday to approve budgetary proposals amounting to Rs 443.64 crore for the remaining fiscal. The executive meeting was presided over by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.
The proposals, including the salary bill of its employees from August to March 31, 2013 was moved by SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur. It was passed by a majority vote, with two dissenting voices in the 15-member executive.
The two members who gave their dissent are Mangal Singh and Bhajan Singh Shergill, who belong to the Akali factions opposed to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which controls the general house.
Voicing their protest, they said, "It has never happened in the history of the SGPC and it is a violation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act. The budget can only be passed by the general house and not the executive."
However, Makkar defended the move saying, "We are abiding by the directions of the Supreme Court which has given its consent to the office-bearers and 11-member executive elected in November 2010 to continue working till the outcome of the SGPC petition pending in the apex court."
The SGPC had moved the apex court regarding the validity of the SGPC elections held in September 2011 in which SAD won a thumping victory. The petition was filed after the Punjab and Haryana high court quashed the 2003 notification of the union home ministry debarring Sehajdharis from voting in the SGPC general polls.
Thereafter, the Sehajdhari Federation filed a petition challenging the validity of the SGPC polls held in September last year as Sehajdharis were not allowed to exercise their franchise. In the meantime, the SGPC approached the Supreme Court seeking validity of the general house that was to come into effect after the September 2011 elections.
The apex court gave temporary relief to the SGPC on March 30 allowing the November 2010 office-bearers and executive to continue working till the next date of hearing, which was July 26, and also gave permission for clearing the budgetary expenditure for the first four months of the fiscal year.
Normally, elections to the office-bearers and the executive take place every year in November. However, last year these could not be held as the union home ministry had not notified the constitution of the new general house following the September polls and also due to the Sehajdhari petition pending in the high court.