Already grappling with the issue of formation of a separate gurdwara management committee in Haryana, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) faces the prospect of its representation being reduced in the Takht Hazur Sahib Board, which manages the affairs of one of the five takhts of the Sikhs at Nanded.
A committee headed by retired judge of Bombay High Court Justice J S Bhatia has been constituted by the Maharashtra government to recommend amendments in the Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board Nanded Act, 1956. Among the issues before it is a demand for increasing the representation of local Sikhs in the board.
The 17-member Takht Hazur Sahib Board consists of four nominated SGPC members, four members from Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan, two Sikh members of parliament, one from Chief Khalsa Diwan, three directly elected from the seven districts of Marathwara, one member each from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, besides the Nanded Collector.
“The local Sikh leaders have complained that they were not adequately represented in the board. The Justice Bhatia committee will address all such issues,” said Dr Vijay Satbir Singh, the chairman of the administrative committee of Takht Hazur Sahib that has been managing the affairs in the absence of the board. The board has not been constituted for more than a decade now, mainly because of a legal battle between the two factions of Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan.
Singh, who is also principal secretary in the Maharashtra government, is one of the members of the Justice Bhatia committee.
Under the 1956 Act, it is mandatory that four members of the board are from Sachkhand Hazuri Diwan to constitute the board. “There has been no board for years now and the management of Takht Hazur Sahib has been in the hands of an administrative committee headed by senior officers from time to time,” said Singh, who took over as chairman of the current committee in February.
He added that the other issues before the Justice Bhatia committee was the demand for increasing representation to Sikhs hailing from different regions of Maharashtra. There has been a demand to have more directly elected representatives from other parts of Maharashtra, in addition to the existing three, Singh said.
“The issue of two Sikh MPs being the member of the board has also been discussed at length. There had been instances when there was a delay in electing the two MPs for the board by the Sikh members of Parliament,” Singh added.
He said the Justice Bhatia committee may submit its report this month, although it has time until September. Singh added: “The SGPC is a prominent body and it is felt that its connection with Takht Hazur Sahib should be maintained. The final report will take into account the feedback received from all quarters.”
However, Jarnail Singh, one of the nominated members of the administrative committee, said there was no need of four nominated members from SGPC. “Did the SGPC ever give representation to Sikh leaders from Hazur Sahib in their body? SGPC members hardly attend any meetings,” said Jarnail.