Wednesday, April 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Sikhism favoured as separate religion
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
After battling it out for decades, the Sikh community has succeeded in ensuring that the distinct and independent identity of Sikhism is duly recognised in the Constitution.

The Sikh community, including political leaders of all shades and hues as well as the religious authorities, have all along maintained that clubbing Sikhs with Hindus in Article 25 of the Constitution had impinged on its status as a separate religion.

The perseverance of the Sikh community that any dilution of Sikhism vis-a-vis Hinduism or any other religion should be removed has found favour with the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution headed by the former Chief Justice of India, Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah.

On the “Right to Freedom of Religion” and the specious issue of Article 25 diluting the identity of the Sikhs, the commission observed that the reference to Hindus “should be construed as including a reference to Sikhs etc.”

The recommendation of the commission in this regard said: “The commission, without going into the larger issue on which the contention is based, is of the opinion that the purpose of the representations would be served if explanation II to Article 25 is omitted and sub-clause (b) of clause (2) of that Article is reworded as follows — (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of these religions.”

At present explanation II under Article 25 states — “In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.”

The NDA government will have to come forward with the necessary amendment to Article 25 as suggested by the commission to remove the impression that Sikhism is being diluted. This applies to the Jain and Buddhist communities as well.

The commission submitted its exhaustive report containing more than 240 recommendations in two volumes to the Vajpayee government on March 31.

National Commission for Minorities Vice-Chairman Tarlochan Singh had appeared before the Soli Sorabjee subcommittee of the commission several times and put forth forcefully the contention of the Sikh community. While maintaining that Sikhs and Hindus had common ancestors, Mr Tarlochan Singh said there was no ground to club them together. Elaborating, he said members of the Constituent Assembly were not conversant with the history of Sikhism, its tenets, traditions and culture.

The clubbing in the relevant clause of Hindus and Sikhs gave a wrong impression and had proved detrimental to the interests of the Sikh community . He recalled that as a mark of protest, two Sikh members in the Constituent Assembly representing the Shiromani Akali Dal refused to put their signatures on the final draft of the Constitution of India. Mr Tarlochan Singh emphasised that Sikhism should be harmoniously mentioned in the Constitution and other laws of the land as an independent religion in keeping with its history, traditions and culture. He pleaded with the commission to do “proper justice to this simple demand” of the Sikhs.Back

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