SC clears decks for SGPC elections

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday cleared the decks for Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) elections in Punjab slated for September 18.

A bench of justices J M Panchal and H L Gokhale, however, ruled results of the elections would be subject to the final outcome of the case pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court vis-a-vis denial of voting rights to Sehjdhari Sikhs.

The bench further said the high court will dispose off within one month the case relating to the voting rights of the Sehjdhari sect.

The Sehjdhari Sikh Federation had challenged the September 6 verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court suspending its September 1 order that had granted the Sehjdharis the right to vote in the SGPC election.

In its special leave petition, the Federation said the full bench of the HC could not have suspended the operation of the September 1 order merely on an application filed by the central government seeking its recall and without examining the "effect of suspension."

The Sehjdhari Sikhs also questioned the legal sustainability of the HC order which had denied them their "statutory right" to vote.

The HC had passed the September 1 order on being informed by the Centre?s senior counsel Harbhagwan Singh that the government was withdrawing its October 8,2003, notification that had taken away the voting rights of the Sehjdhari Sikhs.

Susequently, the HC had disposed of the three petitions filed in 2003 challenging the notification.

However, the Centre filed an application later, contending it had not authorized Harbhagwan to make such a statement in the court and sought recall of the HC order.