26 April 2016 Current Affairs: The Lok Sabha passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on 25 April 2016. The bill – already passed by the Rajya Sabha on 16 March 2016 – seeks to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 with effect from 8 October 2003.It proposes removal of an exception made for Sahajdharis in 1944 that allowed them to vote in elections for the Board and committees instituted under the Act.Now, the bill will be sent to the President for his assent.
Features of the Amendment Bill : It proposed to remove the exception given to Sehajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections for selecting members of the board and the committees constituted under the Act.This amendment will debar Sahjdhari Sikhs voting rights. As Sehajdhari Sikhs are continuously exercising their voting rights in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections since 1949. However, the notification was quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 20 December 2011, leaving it to the appropriate and competent legislature to decide as to whether or not to amend the Act to that effect.Earlier, the Union Cabinet on 10 March 2016 approved the proposal of Home Ministry to amend the Sikh Gurudwaras Act, 1925, with effect from 8 October 2003.As per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, only Sikhs who follow all the fundamental tenets of being a Sikh can contest the election. But as per a 1944 rule, the electorate included Sahajdhari Sikhs as voters as well — a tradition decried by the Sikh community.
Sehajdhari Sikhs : A Sehajdhari is a person who has chosen the path of Sikhism, but is not baptised. He believes in all tenets of Sikhism and teachings of the Sikh Gurus, but may or may not adorn the five symbols of the Sikh faith.