Four days after it directed the Haryana government to request Governor Jagannath Pahadia to withdraw his assent to the Bill aimed at creating a separate Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to manage the affairs of the gurdwaras in the state, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs was on Tuesday looking at other options to force the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government to implement its order.
A formal communication could be sent to the Haryana government soon.
These options, sources in the MHA said, include issuing a formal direction under Article 256 of the Constitution and, thereafter, if required, following up with a threat to resort to a provision in the Constitution — Article 365. This provision, in case a state government refuses to implement a directive issued under Article 256, empowers the President to hold that the government of a state cannot be run in accordance with provisions of Constitution.
The decision to look at other options was taken by the MHA in view of the stand of the Congress government in Haryana in refusing to accept, what it terms as, an illegal and unconstitutional directive to the state government.
Following the advice tendered by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who had termed the passage of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014 by the Assembly on July 11 and which received the Governor’s assent on July 14 as having “no legal effect”, the Centre had Friday sent letters to the Haryana Governor as well as the state Chief Secretary directing the withdrawal of the Governor’s assent to the Bill.
The AG was of the view that since the subject on which the Assembly passed the Bill is dealt under a subject in List I of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India (Central List) and since there is already an Act of Parliament — Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 — which deals with this subject, the Governor should not have given assent to the Bill.
The sources said the Law Ministry has in a fresh opinion told the MHA that Article 256 of the Constitution makes it obligatory for the states to “ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any existing laws which apply in that state” and that the Centre has the power to issue directions to a state government to ensure such a compliance.
The MHA has also been told that among the options that the Centre can exercise in case the Haryana government refuses to heed to directions issued by the Centre is to take resort to other provisions in the Constitution, including Article 365, that empower the President to hold that the Government of the state “cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.
The President can do so in case “any state” fails to comply with or to give effect to any directions given in the exercise of the executive power of the Centre under any provision of the Constitution.
On Tuesday, Haryana Finance Minister H S Chattha said the state government is prepared to sacrifice itself. “The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill-2014 has become an Act and cannot be withdrawn,” the minister said.
“Neither this Bill will be sent back to the Governor nor to the President for his reference. If the central government intends to dismiss the Haryana government it may do so. The state government has done justice to the sentiments and rights of the Sikhs of the state and has done its duty. Why is the central government not approaching the court of law?”
With inputs from ENS, Chandigarh