SGPC polls on schedule: Chidambaram

Last Updated: Friday, September 2, 2011 - 12:40

New Delhi: The government has not withdrawn a 2003 notification preventing Sehajdhari or non-baptised Sikhs from participating in the elections to the SGPC and the polls would take place as scheduled, Home Minister P Chidambaram
on Friday said.

He told the Rajya Sabha he has been in touch with Punjab government and schedule for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls was drawn up in close consultation with the Chief Minister and the minister concerned.

"The elections will take place as per schedule," he said responding to protests by BJP and SAD members in the wake of senior advocate Harbhagwan Singh stating in the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the Centre has decided to withdraw the
notification.

The Home Minister also made the statement in Lok Sabha.

He said, "Neither the Ministry of Law nor the Ministry of Home Affairs had given a vakalatnama to Harbhagwan Singh. No one from the government had briefed him. In particular, he had no authority to make the statement that the notification
dated October 8, 2003 would be withdrawn."

"Government also wishes to make it clear that there is no proposal to rescind or withdraw the notification," he said. "Government will bring the above facts to the notice of the High Court," he said.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley asked if the government intends to proceed against Singh as his statement had created tension in the state and given an impression that Centre was interfering in religious affairs.

Chidambaram said he will seek an explanation from the advocate as did not wish to attach any malafide intentions at this stage. "Having regard to the seniority of the lawyer, let us hear him first," he said.

Chidambaram said his ministry had received a report yesterday evening that Singh appeared in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in the cases relating to the elections to the SGPC.

"He appears to have made the claim that he was representing the Government of India and he stated that the notification dated October 8, 2003 was being withdrawn by the Government of India. On his statement, the High Court is
reported to have passed certain orders," he said.

The Home Minister said senior advocate Singh had a letter
of engagement from the Centre but had not been briefed on the
Centre`s stand by anyone.

Earlier, when Rajya Sabha met for the day, BJP and SAD
members were on their feet raising the issue.

Chairman Hamid Ansari said he has received notice for suspension of Question Hour from Sardar Sukhdev Singh (SAD) and SS Ahluwalia (BJP).

"The Government is making a statement. If you are not satisfied, go ahead and debate the subject," he said.

In the Lok Sabha, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Sher Singh
Ghubaya (both SAD) raised the issue during Question Hour
following Chidambaram made the statement.

PTI



First Published: Friday, September 2, 2011 - 12:40

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