Amendments in Gurdwara Act comes challenged
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Last Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010, 00:12
  
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 and purposes.

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.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, August 12, 2010, 00:12


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