The Supreme Court will on Thursday ordered the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committe (HSGPC) to maintain a status quo on the issue of management control of all 52 Sikh shrines in Haryana till its further orders.
The apex court bench led by Chief Justice RM Lodha also directed the SGPC and HSGPC to open separate bank accounts in which all incomes of gurudwaras under their control will be deposited and posted the matter for further hearing on August 25.
The court also directed the police chief of the state to take all steps to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident.
The bench had this morning directed the representatives of SGPC and HSGPC to be present when it delivers the verdict at 2 pm.
Of the 52 gurdwaras in respect of which the status quo has to be maintained, eight are of historical importance, 17 are those which have an earning of Rs.20 lakh per annum and each of the remaining gurdwaras are earning less than Rs.20 lakh per annum.
The court’s direction came on a petition by Harbhajan Singh – a member of SGPC from Kurukshetra – seeking the invalidation of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act 2014, contending that it was ultra vires of the constitution and the state assembly had no power to enact it.
Through the petition, the apex court was urged to examine the constitutional validity of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act, 2014 under which a separate committee was formed to manage the affairs of the Gurdwaras in the state.
The formation of a new committee had sparked a bitter tussle between the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and the new panel over control of Sikh shrines in Haryana.
The bench yesterday turned down the plea for immediate status quo on SGPC row and listed the case for an urgent hearing.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner who is a member of SGPC, pleaded for status quo saying the situation is volatile in the state and the apex court must intervene in the matter immediately.
The bench, however, said that there is no need of passing order on status quo right now and posted the case for hearing on August 07.
“We would examine the issue. There is a duly-elected government to take care of law and order situation in the state,” the bench said.
The matter was listed for hearing before another bench but one of the judges of the bench recused himself. The petitioner then rushed to the Chief Justice’s court for an urgent hearing.
The Chief Justice’s bench declined to hear the case and listed it for hearing on Friday but after Salve vehemently pleaded the court for early hearing, the bench posted the case for Thursday.