Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal today hailed the unanimous passage of the Sikh Gurudwaras (amendment) bill, 2016 in the Rajya Sabha denying ‘Sehjdharis’ the right to vote in the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.
Terming the passage of the amendment bill as a historical moment in the Sikh history, Badal said the Rajya Sabha had righted a wrong by passing this amendment retrospectively with effect from October, 2003 besides respecting the sentiments of the Sikh community on this sensitive issue.
Profusely thanking the NDA government for passage of this amendment unanimously, the Union minister said this was a red letter day for the Sikhs all over the globe whose rights and interests to supervise management of Gurudawaras' have been protected by the NDA government. She also said that with this step, the NDA government had earned the gratitude of the Sikh community.
Divulging more, Badal said the passing of this amendment was also a victory for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which was always steadfast in its resolve not to let outsiders to vote by proxy in the SGPC elections through the ‘Sehajdhari’ route.
It is pertinent to mention here that the promulgation of Sikh Gurudwara Act in 1925 granted voting rights to Sikhs but in 1959, the Sehajdharis were also allowed to vote in the SGPC polls. Then in October, 2003 the then NDA government amended the act denying Sehajdharis voting rights. But this decision was quashed during UPA regime meting out injustice to the Sikh community.
"Today the SAD and its MPs have succeeded in correcting a historical wrong by convincing the upper house to pass this amendment unanimously and also sent out a signal to those conspiring to weaken the community that their designs will not be allowed to succeed”, Badal said adding she was confident the amendment would be passed in the Lok Sabha also in due course.