New Delhi/Chandigarh, July 18
Upset at the controversy over setting up of a separate board to oversee Sikh gurdwaras in Harayana, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Friday to seek the central government’s intervention.
Following a meeting lasting 40 minutes, Badal told media later that the central government was seized of the “unconstitutional” step taken by the Haryana government in getting a legislation passed by the state assembly and enacting it into a law.
Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami Friday shot off a letter to the Haryana government seeking withdrawal of the governor’s assent to the controversial Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, passed by the assembly last week. The assent had been given Monday.
The Haryana government reacted sharply to the letter from and outrightly rejected withdrawal of the new act.
“The governor has already given his assent to the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Bill 2014, which has now become an act. In case anyone has any objection, he can challenge it in the court of law.
“The court would see whether it is legal or not and deliver its verdict or the Vidhan Sabha (assembly) can amend it. As the governor has already given his assent to the bill, he cannot withdraw it after it has become a law,” Chaudhary told media in Chandigarh, adding that the notification for the new act had already been issued.
Ridiculing the letter received from the union home ministry, Chaudhary termed it “amusing and funny”.
But Badal said that Haryana’s decision had created a constitutional crisis and was “brazen interference in Sikh religious affairs”.
“The Government of India has realized that the Haryana government has committed a grave constitutional monstrosity by enacting a law on a subject which does not fall in its jurisdiction. I am shocked by the brazenness shown by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in confronting not only the Constitution of India but the entire Khalsa Panth,” he said.
Badal alleged Hooda was trying to divide Sikhs by the HSGPC decision just before assembly polls in Haryana.
He also met union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for nearly 90 minutes to discuss the controversial issue. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the government also attended the meeting.
The Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will lose control over 72 gurdwaras in Haryana with the new law in the state.
The SGPC, which has a Rs.950 crore annual budget, controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.