SC to Hear Petition on Validity of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Act

The Supreme Court today agreed to examine the constitutional validity of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act, 2014 under which a separate committee was formed to manage the affairs of the Gurdwaras in the state.

The formation of a new committee had sparked a bitter tussle between the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and the new panel over control of Sikh shrines in Haryana.

A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, however, turned down the plea for immediate status quo on SGPC row and listed the case for an urgent hearing tomorrow.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner who is a member of SGPC, pleaded for status quo saying the situation is volatile in the state and the apex court must intervene in the matter immediately.

The bench, however, said that there is no need of passing order on status quo right now and posted the case for hearing tomorrow.

"We would examine the issue. There is a duly-elected government to take care of law and order situation in the state," the bench said.

The matter was listed for hearing before another bench but one of the judges of the bench recused himself. The petitioner then rushed to the Chief Justice's court for an urgent hearing.

The Chief Justice's bench, however, declined to hear the case today saying the matter would be heard on Friday.

After Salve vehemently pleaded the court for early hearing, the bench posted the case for tomorrow.

Petition filed by Harbhajan Singh, a resident of Haryana and member of SGPC, said that Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 says that the power to make law in respect of SGPC as an Inter-State Body Corporate has been reserved to the Central Government only and there is no provision in law for any bifurcation by enacting a State legislation.

The petition has said that the hasty enactment is not only against the constitutional provisions and the statutory provisions of Punjab Reorganisation Act but is also divisive in its intention to create dissension among followers of Sikh religion.

"Under the law, Haryana cannot legislate in respect of a subject where the field is already occupied by central legislation as the subject of religious institutions correlates to Entry 28 List III. The strict provisions with regard to interstate body corporate under the law have not been complied with.

"It is important to note that mandate with regard to several actions including reservation of constituencies, constitution of Sikh Gurdwara Elections Tribunal and notification of Gurdwaras for bringing them within the provisions of Section 85 of the 1925 Act have been done by the Central Government," the petition said.

The petitioner sought court's direction in the nature of certiorari for quashing the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Act on the ground that it is ultra vires the Constitution.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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