Monday, August 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SGPC against voting right to Sehajdharis
K.S. Chawla

Alamgir (Ludhiana), August 12
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today put a spanner in the conduct of the election process of the General House of the SGPC by the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Election Commission, when it reiterated that the Sehajdharis should not be allowed the right of vote and only the Sikhs should have the right.

The decision in this regard was taken at an emergency meeting of the Executive of the SGPC which met at Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir, under the presidentship of Mr. Jagdev Singh Talwandi. The meeting was convened to discuss the issues pertaining to the elections to the General House of the SGPC. The Chief Commissioner has already started the process of organising the election to the House on the basis of the prevailing voter lists which allows the Sehajdharis to cast their votes.

The Gurdwara Election Commission has also convened a meeting of the officers of the Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh at Chandigarh tomorrow to discuss the arrangements for holding the election

The Executive maintained that the resolution passed by the General House of the SGPC on November 30, 2000, and further modified on March 31 again by the House should be implemented and the elections be held on its basis. The House had on November 30 unanimously passed a resolution that Sehajdharis should be debarred from the right of vote in the SGPC elections and the definition of Sikh voters be changed.

The General House had also sought reduction in the voting age from 21 to 18.

Under the resolution, those who smoke and consume alcohol cannot be true Sikhs and should have no right to vote.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi told later that under the Nehru -Tara Singh pact, all decisions taken by two-third majority of the House would be implemented by the government and amendments made on the recommendations of the SGPC only.

Mr Talwandi asserted that in this case, the General House had unanimously passed the resolutions and suggested amendments in the Gurdwara Act, 1925. The Chief Election Commissioner, Gurdwara Election Commission, had promised to get the necessary amendments done by the Union Home Ministry before organising the elections to the House.

But, he alleged, now the commission had started the process without consulting the SGPC and getting the necessary amendment done. The SGPC President said that the SGPC had sent the resolutions to the Gurdwara Election Commission and was waiting for the necessary amendment in the Gurdwara Act.

Mr Talwandi said the SGPC would also seek legal opinion to stop the Gurdwara Election Commission from further proceeding in the election process.

Asked if the move of the SGPC Executive would delay the elections to the General House of the SGPC, he said that it was not possible to hold the election before six months even in the present situation. He said that the government was bound to go by the recommendations of the SGPC.

It is learnt from sources close to the SGPC that the text of the resolution was sent to the Gurdwara Election Commission immediately after the resolution was passed on November 30 and the Commission accordingly passed it to the Union Home Ministry for action. The ministry then sent the resolution to the Punjab Government for comments which has not done so far.

The sources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal did not want any controversy at this stage when the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha are due to be held.

Meanwhile, the Executive Committee has clipped the wings of the SGPC Secretary Mr Gurbhajan Singh Bachan, as all the powers under Section 85 of the Gurdwara Act have been conferred in Mr. Harbeant Singh, Additional Secretary. The decision to this effect was taken by the Executive at its last meeting vide resolution no. 71 held on August 7 at Alamgir.Back

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