SGPC in Haryana an 'attack' on India's integrity: Sukhbir Singh Badal

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 25 2014, 22:05pm hrs
Amid a brewing confrontation, Punjab Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and said the Haryana decision on forming a parallel SGPC is an "attack" on the country's integrity.

"The Government of Haryana has taken a decision which will basically harm the national integration of the country. It is an attack on India's unity," he told reporters here after raising the issue with the two central ministers.

"They have challenged the authority of the Government of India, they have violated every Article, every word of the Indian Constitution. And they have done something which is unimaginable in the history of this country," the Akali Dal leader said.

His comments came against the backdrop of Haryana's decision to form a parallel SGPC and its defiance to the Centre's missive that it cannot do so.

Akali Dal sources said that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has expressed readiness to take out a "morcha" over the issue and possibly may even resign to lead the protest if the need arose.

The Punjab government has been maintaining that Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC)--which manages key Sikh shrines--was formed under the Central Gurdwara Act, 1925, during the British rule and Haryana had no legal authority to enact a law for a separate SGPC to manage gurdwaras in the state.

The Centre had last week asked the Haryana Governor to withdraw the assent granted to a Bill aimed at creating a separate Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, saying the state Assembly did not have legal authority to enact such a law and it was thus 'void'.

However, the Haryana government has asked MHA to withdraw its letter.

But the Law Ministry told MHA that it has all the rights to give directions to any state government on the issue of legislation.

The Law Ministry opinion comes against the backdrop of Haryana insisting that it is the right of the state government, and the state legislature to enact law on creating a separate Gurudwara management committee for the state.

Earlier in its letter to Haryana Chief Secretary S C Choudhary, Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami had said the 'Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014' passed by the state Assembly on July 11, to which the Governor accorded his assent on July 14, has "no legal effect" and be withdrawn before any further complications arise.

"Accordingly, the state government of Haryana may kindly bring the above facts to the notice of the Governor and request the Governor to withdraw the assent given by him to the bill in view of the fact that the state legislature had no legislative competence and the bill passed is void and of no legal effect before any or further complications arise," Goswami had said in his letter to Choudhary.

The Centre had also sought legal opinion from the Attorney General who opined that Haryana state legislature had no jurisdiction to pass such a law.

"The state legislature is, therefore, denuded of any jurisdiction to pass any bill in respect of which only Parliament has exclusive power to enact a law," the Attorney General had said in his opinion.

The Attorney General's opinion, which has been sent to the Haryana government for necessary action, stated, "The law is already in place since 1925 and there is no justificiation for Haryana legislature to have passed a law on the same subject matter, taking away the jurisdiction of the Board/Corporation on the basis of 1925 Act."