M A I N   N E W S

HC order on Sikhs stayed
Way cleared for allowing reservation to Sikh students in SGPC institutions
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
The Supreme Court today stayed an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that declared that “Sikhs are not a minority in Punjab”. Today’s order of the apex court will pave the way for allowing reservation to Sikh students in educational institutions being run by the SGPC.

The high court in its order had said there was nothing to show from the written statement filed by the state of Punjab that it had any material or even a grievance from Sikhs.

The order had led to the quashing of two crucial notifications of the Punjab government.

The first notification allowed Sikh educational institutions run by the SGPC to reserve up to 50 per cent seats exclusively for members of the Sikh community on the basis that Sikhs are a minority community.

The second notification was issued under the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions Act, whereby Christian and Sikh educational institutions were notified to be minority institutions in Punjab for the purposes of the said Act.

The impact of the stay on the HC order means that Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, and the SGPC-run schools, colleges and health institutes will have the freedom as enshrined under the Constitution that allows special status for minority-run institutions.

Going by the procedure, it may take quite some time even before the case can be listed for hearing by the SC leave alone deciding it.

Arguing the matter in the SC, Punjab’s counsel Ajay Pal said the high court had failed to appreciate that there were a number of sects like Nirmalas, Udasis, Ram Raias, Dera Sacha Sauda, Radha Soami’s and Nirankaris etc. who cannot be considered to be Sikhs.

They have been recognised as schismatic and distinct from Sikhs. Some of these and other sects believe in a living guru, which is contrary to the basic tenet of the Sikh faith.

This fact has even been judicially recognised. The adherents of these sects commonly describe themselves Sikhs and hence are even enumerated as Sikhs in the census. Thus, the census figures ought not to be used as the basis to disturb the minority status granted to Sikh institutions run by the SGPC.

Punjab while appealing against the order of the high court had quoted various judgements in the past 80 years or so that had delinked dasis, mahants and deras from Sikhism.

The state also pleaded that the All India Gurdwara Act, 1925, clearly defined the term Sikh and who could be counted as Sikhs.



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