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SGPC Educational Institutes Case
HC: Sikhs not minority community in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today declared the notifications proclaiming the Sikh education institutions run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in Punjab as “minority institutions” as void.

The development is significant as these institutes would not be able to reserve up to 50 per cent of the seats for the members of the Sikh community.

Allowing a petition filed by a Barnala-based student who was denied admission to an institute, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Ajai Lamba, ruled that notifications issued in April 2001 were declared void.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench observed: “There is nothing to show from the written statement by the state of Punjab that it had any material or even a grievance that, as a group, the Sikhs apprehended deprivation of their religious, cultural or educational rights in the state of Punjab from any other community, who may be in majority and who may gain political power in the elections. On this short ground, the impugned notification cannot be sustained in law.”

In their detailed order, the Bench cited a number of the Supreme Court judgements before observing the country could not have been taken as a single unit, as has been done; and there was no material to substantiate that “Sikhs” were not dominant in the state of Punjab.

As a consequence of the notification, additional protection had been conferred on a group of citizens in an unauthorised manner, while excluding other similarly placed citizens. This was clearly violative of the Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Bench also ruled that all consequential action would not affect the admissions prior to the date of judgement, except for the ones which were subject matter of the pending proceedings. “We further direct that the claim of the petitioner be now considered in accordance with the law in the light of this judgement within one month from the date of receipt of the copy of the order,” the Bench further ruled.

In his petition against the state of Punjab, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, SGPC and the Managing Committee of Sri Guru Ramdass Institute of Medical Sciences, petitioner Sahil Mittal had earlier sought the quashing of April 2001 notification declaring Sikh education institutions in the state as “minority” and permitting them to reserve 50 per cent seats for the members of the Sikh community.

Directions were also sought for quashing another notification dated April 2006, and of June 18, 2007. The notifications allowed certain institutions to divide the NRI seats equally between the government quota and the management quota. The petitioner had also asked for quashing the notification dated August 1, 2007, fixing separate fee structure for government quota of management seats.



Govt may go to Supreme Court

The Punjab government may move the Supreme Court against the orders of Division Bench. Advocate-general Hardev Singh Mattewal said the case involved an important legal issue. As such, they would go into all aspects of the case and after perusing the judgement take a decision on moving the apex court. He added that the SGPC had become an inter-state body after the Punjab Re-organisation Act and was serving four “states” of Punjab, Haryana, HP and Chandigarh. Otherwise also, as per the electoral college, the Sikhs were in minority. — TNS



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