The Bhagwant Mann-led Punjab government has decided to make a new law to make Golden Temple 'Gurbani' free for all to air.
Under the current arrangement, the Gurbani rights are granted by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body of the Sikhs. The PTC channel currently has Gurbani broadcast rights, which is owned by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal.
In a tweet, Punjab's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab on Monday said the Mann government is going to make a new law on the broadcast of Gurbani from Sri Harimandir Sahib. It also said that the live telecast will be free for all and no telecast would be required for it.
The IANS reported that the Punjab cabinet on Monday moved a resolution to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, to make Gurbani broadcast free and that it will be tabled in a special assembly sesstion on Tuesday.
Mann said the Sikh Gurdwara (Amendment) Act, 2023 will pave the way for eliminating the undue control of 'modern day masands' over the free to air telecast of the sacred Gurbani, according to an official statement.
The statement quoting Mann said the Cabinet has approved to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925 and to insert Section 125 A in the Act thereby casting duty on the SGPC to ensure "free to air" live telecast of the holy Gurbani from Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple).
Terming it as a historic decision, Mann said, "Aimed at ensuring the free-to-air telecast of sacred Gurbani from Sri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar, the Punjab government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann will amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925."
Mann claimed that the decision is in consonance with the feelings of the 'Sikh Sangat across the globe.'
The chief minister described it as the need of the hour to disseminate the 'Sarb Sanji Gurbani' across the globe with the aim of spreading the universal message of ‘welfare of all’. Mann said Gurbani should be telecast free of cost rather than confining it to a single channel. He said the move will go a long way in offering an opportunity to the 'Sangat' to listen to Gurbani while sitting at home, even in foreign countries.
Mann said it will also allow people to get a glimpse of the Sri Harmandar Sahib on their TVs and other electronic gadgets.
Reactions to the decision
Reacting to the decision, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief H S Dhami said the Punjab government should not interfere in the religious matters of Sikhs and that it has no right to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.
Congress's Sukhpal Singh Khaira questioned how the Punjab government can make a change to a central act.
"As far as my knowledge goes Punjab government cannot tinker or amend or add to the existing Sikh Gurudwara Act 1925 as its a central act!" he said.
On the other hand, Punjab Congress's Navjot Sidhu tweeted that he was in favour of the move.
It is not the first time Mann has referred to the issue of the telecast of Gurbani. Last year too, he had urged the SGPC to allow the telecast of the Golden Temple Gurbani on other channels.
In May, he had hit out at the Akalis, questioning the rationale behind extending the rights to telecast Gurbani from Sachkhand Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar to only one channel.