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Supreme Court Decides To Hear Plea Challenging Haryana Sikh Gurudwara(Management) Act On Merits; Rejects Haryana's Objections To Maintainability

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
5 April 2022 5:07 AM GMT
Supreme Court Decides To Hear Plea Challenging Haryana Sikh Gurudwara(Management) Act On Merits; Rejects Haryanas Objections To Maintainability
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The Supreme Court has rejected the preliminary objections raised by the State of Haryana to a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Haryana Sikh Gurudwara (Management) Act 2014.A bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramaniam decided to hear on merits the petition filed in 2014 by a man named Harbhajan Singh, a member of Shiromani Gurudwara...

The Supreme Court has rejected the preliminary objections raised by the State of Haryana to a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Haryana Sikh Gurudwara (Management) Act 2014.

A bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramaniam decided to hear on merits the petition filed in 2014 by a man named Harbhajan Singh, a member of Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee(SGPC).

The petitioner challenged the Haryana legislation by arguing that the State Legislature lacked the power to create a body for Gurudwara management as such power was reserved with the Parliament. The Haryana law was challenged as violative of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, the State Reorganisation Act, 1956, the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 as well as the Inter­State Corporation Act, 1957.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the the State of Haryana, challenged the maintainability of the petition on two grounds - (i) that there was no infringement of fundamental rights enabling the petitioners to invoke Article 32 of the Constitution of India; and (ii) that by arraying the States of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh as parties to the writ petitions, the writ petitioners are virtually inviting other States to comment upon the legislative competency of the State of Haryana, which is actually an abuse of the process of law.

The Court noted that the petitioners to a religious minority in the State of Haryana, a fact which is not disputed by Mr. Divan. As a minority, the Court added, the petitioners have a right to profess, practice and propagate religion as secured under Article 25 of the Constitution of India and in terms of Article 26 of the Constitution of India, such minority has a right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and to administer such property in accordance with law.

The Court noted that the precedents cited by the State Government- Chiranjit Lal Chowdhuri vs.Union of India & Ors., D.A.V. College, etc. etc. v. State of Punjab & Ors. and Ramdas Athawale v. Union of India & Ors- were not applicable in the instant case.

"But the above decisions do not wholly support the stand of the respondents. This Court in D.A.V. College (supra) has held that there are two aspects. The first is whether ultimately any fundamental right in fact is threatened or violated.So long as a prima facie case of such a threat or violation is made out, a petition under Article 32 must be entertained. Second, once it is entertained, irrespective of whether it is found ultimately that in fact no fundamental rights of the petitioners are invaded, the vires of the legislation or the competence of the legislature to enact the impugned legislation must be gone into and determined. While the first proposition is valid, the second is not. Thus, the entertainment of the writ petition does not mean that this Court has to examine the impugned legislation or legislative competence if the same is not found to be infringing fundamental rights", the Bench observed.

As regards the second ground of objection, the Bench noted that it was "presumptuous".

"Those other States have not questioned the legislative competence of the State of Haryana. There is no inter­State dispute on hand as of now. Since SGPC controls even Gurdwaras situate in those States also, the petitioners thought fit to implead those States as parties", the Bench observed.

"In view thereof, we find that the objection about maintainability of the writ petitions is not sustainable. The same is declined. Hence, both the writ petitions under Article 32 for the alleged violation of their fundamental rights are required to be considered on merits", the Bench said in conclusion.

The matter will now be heard on merits.

Case Title : Harbhajan Singh versus State of Haryana and others (WP(c) 735/2014)

Click here to read/download the order

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