Supreme Court upholds validity of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act 2014

It declared that the law has left "the affairs of the Sikh minority in Haryana to be managed by the Sikhs alone"

September 20, 2022 01:26 pm | Updated 10:28 pm IST - New Delhi

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the validity of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act 2014, declaring that the law has left "the affairs of the Sikh minority in the State to be managed by the Sikhs alone".

A Bench led by Justice Hemant Gupta declared that the State, by enacting the law, did not violate the religious freedom of the Sikh community protected under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

The 2014 Act created a separate juristic entity for the management of the historical gurdwaras in Haryana, gurdwaras with income both over and under ₹20 lakh.

The Act’s objective was to provide a legal procedure by which the gurdwaras were brought under the exclusive control of the Sikhs of Haryana for their proper use, administration, control and financial management reforms to make it consistent with the religious views of the community.

Until the Act came into force, the gurdwaras in Haryana were governed by the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.

The petitioners had challenged the Act, contending that it violated the statutory provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 and was intended to divide the Sikhs. They argued that the State of Haryana had encroached into the religious affairs of the Sikh community.

Dismissing these contentions, Justice Gupta, who authored the 58-page judgment, held that the Act had left the religious affairs of the Sikhs, a minority in Haryana, exclusively “in the hands of the Sikhs in the same manner as was under the 1925 Act”.

“The Haryana Act also provides for Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission… The affairs of the gurdwara are again required to be managed by local gurdwara committee. Since the affairs of the Sikh minority in the State are to be managed by the Sikhs alone, therefore, it cannot be said to be violative of any of the fundamental rights conferred under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution,” the Bench held.

The court rejected arguments that Parliament had the exclusive power to enact law on the issue and Haryana had none.

The court said “a competent State legislature is not deprived of its power to legislate on the subjects falling within its jurisdiction in terms of List II of the Seventh Schedule. The 1966 Act does not bar the State Legislature to legislate on the fields of its legislative competence falling under List II of the Seventh Schedule or even in List III of the Seventh Schedule, subject to the limitations as are prescribed in the Constitution”.

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