Chandigarh: In its historical judgment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday set aside the notification issued by the Centre on October 8, 2003 under which Sehajdhari Sikhs (Sikhs wearing kirpans) were denied their right to vote in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

A full bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Justice Surya Kant, Justice MMS Bedi and Justice M Jayapaul pronounced the orders while hearing the petition filed by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation seeking annulling the Central Government notification over the issue.

The bench said, “The notification does not fulfill the norms for provisions of Section-72 in the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.”

On the basis of issuing mere notification, no amendment can be made to the eligibility criteria fixed for the voters in the SGPC polls under Section-49 and 92 of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925, the bench added.

The bench stated that the Centre had issued the notification under Sub-section 2 of the Section-72 of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, while the Central Act, State Act and Provincial Act cannot be amended.

The legislature can amend this very act through appropriate and fixed provisions. No change can be made in the act by delegating the legislative power.

Besides, the bench also added that the Centre’s notification does not satisfy the provisions of Section-72 of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

Meanwhile, the full bench did not give any clear definition over the issue whether a particular person is Sikh or not.

The whole verdict is based on validity or non-validity of the notification issued by the Centre in 2003 under the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 and Section-72 of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

JPN/Bureau