May 4, 2015 | By Parmjeet Singh
Amritsar, Punjab: The Akal Takht has reportedly taken a serious note of the Guru Granth Sahib being prepared in two parts instead of as a ‘single entity’ in Canada. The issue was brought to the notice of takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh by members of the Sant Samaj in a memorandum submitted to him.
The memorandum claims that a Sikh, identified as Darshan Singh of Canada, had recently got the scripture printed in two parts.
The Jathedar after going through the memorandum has directed Darshan Singh to halt the preparation of Saroops immediately and till further orders.
The memorandum also pointed to other discrepancies like using coloured instead of black and white letters, while printing copies of the scripture.
Punjab Assembly Act fails to address the issue:
The SGPC and the then Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib were cautioned that any Punjab assembly or Indian Parliament’s enactment would not be able to deal with the issues related to preparation of Saroops of Guru Granth Shaib, but they did not paid any attention.
Present case of preparation of Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib in Canada also shows that “Jagat Jot Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Act 2008” is incompient to comprehend the the issue related to preparation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In the end it is the Akal Takhat that has taken notice of the matter and issued directive to the concerns party/ persons. Without going in to the merit of the case it could be said that the Akal Takhat was well with in it’s sovereign jurisdiction to take notice of this sort of matters.
Jagat Jot Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Act 2008 – a faulty decision of SGPC:
To address the issue of ‘unauthorised’ publication and ‘sale’ of Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib by some publishers, the SGPC passed a resolution requesting the Punjab state assembly to pass a law ‘authorising’ the SGPC as only competent body to publish Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib.
There were certain genuine concerns involved in this issue as certain publishers (primarily M/s Bhai Chatar Singh Jiwan Singh of Amritsar) were preparing Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib only for their business gains. They were not taking due care while preparing Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib and this was also leading to “Shabad-jor Bhindta” (difference in written form/ words of Gurbani). Moreover these commercial publishers were not taking care of ‘Maryada’ (Sikh religious code of conduct).
Though there were genuine concerns behind the issue, the decision taken by the SGPC was faulty – for following reasons:
(1) Indian state, being a ‘secular state’ (or at least so claimed), has no authority to enact laws on internal matters of a religion. Therefore internal matters of Sikh religion were not subject matters of the Indian state, including Central government/ Indian parliament or any of the state governments/ state assemblies. So, first fault of SGPC’s decision is that it has surrendered a subject matter related exclusive jurisdiction of the Sikh Panth to the Indian state via Punjab assembly.
(2) The SGPC failed to take a decision in accordance with the Sikh tradition. Instead of initiating a process to evolve Sikh jurisprudence and frame standard norms related to preparation of Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib, the SGPC handed over the matter to the Punjab assembly. Now the organs of the Indian state are authorised to adjudicate upon matters related to this subject matter (preparation of Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib), and even the validity of the Act itself is do be decided by the Indian judiciary. e.g. If Sikhs are to raise an argument that SGPC was not authorised to surrender the subject matter related to the jurisdiction of the Sikh panth to the Punjab assembly, Sikhs will have to raise this point before the Indian judiciary; which means the final authority will lie with the state/ judiciary, not the Sikh panth.
(3) There are certain technical flaws as well. The concerns (referred above) were universal in nature, but the authority of the Punjab assembly’s enactment does not extend even to the city of Chandigarh, not to talk about other states of the Indian subcontinent or the foreign countries. So the issue widely remains un-addressed. If some publisher starts a printing press in Chandigarh or Haryana etc. and starts printing Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib the SGPC can’t do anything because the Jagat Jot Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Act 2008 does not extend to these territories. If SGPC is to invoke Section 295-A of the Indian penal code against such publishers, then it should be asked that why the Satkar Act of 2008 was enacted, because Section 295-A of IPC was already in force in al-most all states of Indian sub-continent (excluding Jammu and Kashmir, where the IPC is not applicable).
(4) As the issue was related to internal religious matters of the Sikh panth, the proper authority in this case was the Akal Takht, which has universal jurisdiction over internal matters of the Sikh panth. As many foreign states have already recognized the Sikh martyada adopted by the Akal Takht as standard code of conduct on matters related to the practise of the Sikh faith, any norms adopted by the Akal Takht regarding preparation of the Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib would have emerged as ‘standard regulations’ related to preparation of Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib.
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