CHANDIGARH, Punjab—The Union government of India has appointed Justice (Retd.) S.S. Saron as the new Chief Gurdwara Election Commissioner. Notably, this post had been lying vacant since many years due to which the SGPC elections couldn’t be held even after nine years.
Interestingly, this move has come a few days after SAD (Badal) snapped ties with the ruling BJP. The appointment of Chief Gurdwara Election Commissioner is a direct signal by the BJP led Indian government to hold pending SGPC elections.
The SGPC elections were last conducted in September-2011 but later the Court had imposed a ban on all the SGPC members from taking charge after a petition about voting right for Sehajdhari Sikhs reached Court. Till 2016, an ad-hoc committee kept on managing the SGPC affairs.
The Panthik groups had been demanding SGPC elections for a long time but the ruling BJP was continuously ignoring this demand while allegedly colluding with SAD (Badal).
The Panthik politics in Punjab is likely to take a new turn as the SAD (Democratic) head Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa may emerge as the new ally of the ruling BJP in Punjab.
However, there are a lot of legal hindrances before the newly appointed Chief Gurdwara Election Commissioner to hold SGPC elections and it won’t be easy for the Justice (Retd.) S.S. Saron to hold SGPC elections shortly because of the following two challenges:
- Justice (Retd.) S.S. Saron would have to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision about the legitimacy of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee as the SGPC member from Kurukshetra had moved a petition challenging the legitimacy of HSGPC constituted by the Haryana government.
- As the BJP led Union government of India had abolished the voting right of Sehajdharis in SGPC elections, so the Gurdwara Election Commission will have to prepare voter lists of Gursikh voters in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, which is a long process.
In 2018, the Indian government had appointed Justice (Retd.) Darshan Singh as Chief Gurdwara Election Commissioner to hold SGPC elections but he didn’t take charge as he got placed at some other post of profit in Haryana.