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Row goes to SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 25
Even as the mediation by religious leaders to resolve the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy was on, the sect headed by Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh today approached the Supreme Court seeking protection for its over 100 institutions spread over 13 states with its lawyer making a frantic bid to get an urgent hearing.

Though a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D.K Jain had fixed the hearing on the petition of the Dera and a PIL moved by former Punjab Deputy Advocate-General Arvinder Kaur on the issue for June 4 after a special mention was made in the morning, sect’s lawyer V.K Ohri made another bid to get an early hearing in the afternoon.

But the court cited its rule of procedure against entertaining a second mentioning of the same case on the same day. However, the court gave him liberty to mention the case again on May 28 when it reassembles after two holidays.

Ohri insisted that there was a real threat of attacks on the Dera's institutions in the wake of Akal Takht fixing a deadline of May 27 for closing them and, therefore, an urgent hearing was required.

The court, which in the morning said “the problems like these better be solved politically at the government level” refused to yield, saying “we can’t deviate from the rules… but you have a right to mention it again.” Ohri later told The Tribune that he would again make a request to the court for an urgent hearing on Monday. But when his attention was drawn to the reports that medication bid by some religious leaders, led by Swami Agnivesh, was yielding some positive results, he said “that is a different issue…let us wait”.

The petition on behalf of the sect was filed jointly by its three functionaries, Abjijit Bhagat, a trustee and vice-chairman of the Dera Sacha Sauda’s headquarters at Sirsa, and Gurdas Singh and Ombir Singh, its workers in Sriganganagar and Meerut.

The petitioner denied the charge against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of attiring himself as Guru Gobind Singh and performing the ritual of offering “Amrit” like him to his followers. The allegations were described as “frivolous and baseless”.

“By taking the frivolous issue of dress worn by Satguruji on May 13, the Sikh organisations in Punjab have caused grievous injuries to the followers in different parts of the state,” the petition alleged. While accusing Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of “openly coming out against Dera Sacha Sauda”, the petitioners alleged that it was an act of “grave provocation” on the part of the Chief Minister.

The Dera has named the Centre, the SGPC, the Shiromani Akali Dal, 12 states and the Union Territory of Chandigarh as respondents. A direction has been sought to all respondents to protect every Dera institution in these states.

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