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Sgpc Elections Postponed Following Center Allowing Voting Rights To Sehajdhari Sikhs

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CHANDIGARH: The SGPC elections in to be held on September 18 has been postponed following the center government on Thursday in reply to a writ petition informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it has withdrawn the 2003 notification barring Sehajdhari and non-baptised )Patit) Sikhs from voting in the SGPC elections.

The Centre told the bench, comprising justices M M Kumar, Alok Singh and Gurdev Singh, that the October 8, 2003, notification was issued "without application of mind" and that its withdrawal now enables Sehajdhari Sikhs to vote in the September 18 polls.

The government's reply came on a seven-year old plea filed by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation challenging the notification.

With today's development, the voters' list for the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee general house elections will be re-drafted, if Gurdwara Elections Commission allows the non-baptised Sikhs to participate in the polls. The process could delay the elections.

The GEC secretary, Avtar Singh Narula, said the commission will react to the development after it receives a a copy of the reply.

Appearing for Union of India, advocate Harbhagwan Singh told the notification was issued "without any application of mind only on the basis of the resolution passed by the SGPC on March 3, 2002."

Taking note of the assertions, the court said: "In view of the statement by senior advocate Harbhagwan Singh, the reference made to the full Bench is rendered infructuous and is disposed of as such."

The petition was filed by the president of Sehajdhari Sikh Federation, Paramjeet Singh Ranu, who welcomed the notification's withdrawal and appealed to the SGPC to treat them at par with other Sikhs and allow them to participate in the polls.

However, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar told reporters at Ludhiana that he condemns the withdrawal of the notification issued by the NDA government as the Sehajdhari Sikhs did not conform to the definition of true Sikhs.

Makkar said the UPA government's action was a "direct interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs by the Congress, which could not be tolerated."

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