It is high time amendments were made in the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) Act that was framed in 1925, said Giani Harpreet Singh, acting Jathedar of Akal Takht. He was speaking at a one-day workshop organised by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle where academicians from across the state gave suggestions on highlighting the importance of Akal Takht and SGPC among the Sikh diaspora nationally as well as internationally.
Experts said that Akal Takht’s supremacy was in danger and it should be politically free.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which was earlier the political wing of SGPC, has overpowered it, said experts. “It is the need of the hour to amend the SGPC Act so as to highlight its importance,” said Harpreet Singh. The speakers pointed out that the Indian Constitution had gone through several amendments since 1950 but the SGPC Act was never amended. The acting Jathedar said, “Central governments over the years wanted that Sikh institutions should not become strong. I welcome the suggestions of academicians and they can give direct suggestions to Akal Takht… we will try to get them implemented.”
Giani Harpreet agreed that many unwanted issues were coming before the Akal Takht, questioning its larger role for the Sikh sangat. He said, “We get incidents of mutual disputes of Gurdwara committees, monetary disputes as well as complaints over political rivalry. These cases are not supposed to come before Akal Takht.”
Speakers highlighted the working of SGPC and listed many anomalies, however, no representative from SGPC was present at the meeting though many were invited. Dr Prabhjot Kaur, retired principal, Government College, Ludhiana, said, “When SGPC was formed, Shiromani Akali Dal was made its political wing, however, over the years, SAD overpowered and made SGPC its religious wing. Things need to be reversed and SGPC should work independently.”
Dr Kehar Singh, former chairman of the Punjab State Education Board, said, “Akal Takht need to have its wide horizon and rules need be framed regarding the working ofJathedars.”
Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Ex-V-C Guru Granth Sahib World University said, “Many appointments done by SGPC need to be questioned as a number of granthis are undeserving. There should be dedicated centres to train granthis.”
Dr GPI Singh, V-C, Adesh Medical University, said, “Akal Takht is going through a crisis. It used to be the apex body of Sikhs but its relevance is diluting.”