Court refuses to stay Sep 18 SGPC poll

September 6th, 2011 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Chandigarh, Sep 6 (IANS) The Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday refused a plea of the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation to stay the Sep 18 Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SPGC) election.

The high court also reversed its Sep 1 order on the issue of voting rights of Sehajdhari or non-baptised Sikhs which was based on the wrong information provided to the court by central government counsel Harbhagwan Singh.

The high court bench stayed the implementation of its order in which the statement of counsel, that the central government had withdrawn an October 2003 notification which barred Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in the SGPC poll, was accepted.

After counsel gave wrong information to court, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told parliament that the government had not withdrawn the notification and there was no exemption for Sehajdhari Sikhs from the ban on voting in the SGPC poll.

The issue had led to a major controversy in Punjab politics and the Sikh community. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, SGPC leadership and Sikh clergy blamed the central government for interfering in Sikh religious affairs.

The SGPC, an elected religious body of Sikhs for control and management of gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, has an annual budget of Rs.580 crore.

The notification barring non-baptised Sikhs from voting was issued in 2003 during the National Democratic Alliance regime at the centre following a resolution adopted by the SGPC March 30, 2002.

Around 60 lakh Sikh voters have registered for the SGPC poll Sep 18.

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