New Delhi/Nagpur: A Bill listed in Lok Sabha plans to deny voting rights to Sikhs without hair (kesh) and turbans in the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) elections. The Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on March 16.
The move assumes special significance as Punjab will elect a new assembly in 2017.
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have raised strong objections to the Bill. “This shouldn’t be done. Government shouldn’t interfere in the religious affairs unless it affects public order. The matter is subjudice. Probably the government is acting under the pressure of Akalis. We should have waited for the Supreme Court verdict,” BJP National Secretary RP Singh said.
The President Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and SAD Spokesperson, Manjit Singh GK, condemned the move. “BJP and its ally Shiromani Akali Dal have their eyes on Punjab polls. Centre is moving a bill which would deny voting rights to a large majority of Sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC elections,” he said.
The Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh, on March 15, 2016. It was passed by the House on March 16, 2016. The Bill seeks to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.
A government notification dated October 8, 2003 had sought to disentitle the Sehjdhari Sikhs from voting in the SGPC and management committee elections.
However, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had struck down the notification as invalid in 2011. It had noted that the legislature must amend the law, if Sehajdhari Sikhs are to be disentitled from voting.