THE SHIROMANI Akali Dal (SAD) as well as Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) members, elected in 2011, are eagerly waiting for a letter from the central government to allow them to convene the first meeting of the SGPC house.
The SGPC house comprising those who won in 2011 SGPC polls, mostly SAD nominees, will elect the new executive body and the president in the meeting.
The SGPC house has been non-functional ever since it was formed — with the Supreme Court putting a stay on its functioning due to a case filed by the gurdwara panel over the right of vote in SGPC elections for Sehajdhari Sikhs.
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The Supreme Court recently reinstated the SGPC elected in 2011 as it disposed of the petition on the Sehajdhari Sikhs.
The current SGPC president, Avtar Singh Makkar, who has held the post since 2005, is likely to lose his position now. While the Sehajdhari case was pending, the Supreme Court had appointed an interim SGPC, comprising the same 15 members who were elected in 2005. In the last few months, Makkar’s relations with SAD, especially with Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, have soured over the desecration incidents, the controversial pardon to the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, and the sacking of the panj pyaras.
SAD, which virtually controls SGPC affairs, has a handsome majority in the 2011 house, with 157 of the total 170 members affiliated to the party. A special post of Chief Secretary was especially created for Harcharan Singh by SGPC on the orders of Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Talking to The Indian Express, Harcharan Singh said, “The House elected in 2011 is already constituted. The stay on its working was subjected to the case pending in the Supreme Court on the Sehajdhari issue. Now that the Supreme Court has given its verdict on the matter, we are waiting for a letter from the Centre. Section 54 of the Act says we need consent of the Ministry of Home Affairs to hold the first meeting of the newly elected house. We are expecting the letter soon.”
About the confusion over the tenure of the SGPC house, Singh said, “In the past too, SGPC houses have been in place way past their tenure, sometimes even for 12 years without elections. The issue has to be decided by the state and central governments.”
On how SAD will get another five-year tenure for the SGPC house, he said, “Once the house is reinstated, then the state government will write to the central government to extend the tenure of the house. It is for the central government to take a call on that suggestion.”