Chandigarh: The amendments carried out in the
1925 Sikh Gurdwara Act preventing Sahjdhari sect of Sikhs from
casting votes in the SGPC elections have been challenged in
the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
In a petition filed before the Court, a Sahjdhari Sikh has
challenged the action of the Union of India and other
respondents "whereby Sahjdhari Sikhs are not being considered
as Sikhs in view of the impugned amended Section 49 and
Section 92 of the Gurdwara Act.
In the petition filed through counsel Mansur Ali and H.S.
Deol, Hans Raj of Jalandhar district has contended special
voting rights were given to Sahjdhari Sikhs in 2002. As such,
it is evident that "Sahjdhari Sikhs were recognized as Sikhs
and got all the electoral rights thereof".
Mansur Ali said up to 2003 Sahjdhari Sikhs were considered
as Sikhs. But now "the respondents are restraining the
definition of Sikhs by ousting Sahjdhari Sikhs by amending
Section 49 and Section 92 of the Act".
He said the original Act declared Sahjdhari Sikhs as
qualified electors for SGPC elections and the apex court had
in numerous judgments held the state cannot regulate the
definition of religion.
As such, the state authorities cannot fetter the
definition of Sikhs in general and Sahjdhari Sikhs in
particular when religion is not within the bounds of any kind
of legislation, the petitioner argued.
Mansur Ali said Sahjdhari Sikhs were ones not born in Sikh
families but were followers of Sikh religion for all intents
He said when even the preachers have not restricted any
man from entering Sikh-fold, the action of respondents in
creating a class within a class is bad in law.
Taking up the petition for quashing the amendments, the
Bench of Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Ajay Tewari
issued a notice returnable on September 28 to the Centre,
state of Punjab and others.