DC Aggarwal to preside over SGPC meeting
Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
When Amritsar DC Rajat Aggarwal convenes the first meeting of the newly elected SGPC members, it will be a rare occasion as in the past 50 years no non-Sikh DC has got the opportunity to do so.
Aggarwal took charge as Amritsar DC in June, succeeding Kahan Singh Pannu. It was after 34 years that the holy city got a regular non-Sikh DC. The last non-Sikh DC in Amritsar was JD Khanna( 1975 to 1977).
Amritsar has mostly had Sikh DCs post-Independence. However, there is no clarity whether the DC of Amritsar would preside over the first meeting of the SGPC during the pre-Independence period.
Former SGPC secretary Kulwant Singh said: “There is no condition that a non-Sikh DC can’t convene the first meeting of the SGPC. Nevertheless, it is a religious issue directly linked with the gurdwaras. I think a Sikh DC should preside over the meeting.”
He recalled that once a non-Sikh was made the Gurdwara Election Commissioner, which created a lot of furore. Subsequently, he was replaced. “To my mind, this will be the first instance in independent India that a non-Sikh DC would preside over the first meeting of the new SGPC members,” he said. Another former SGPC secretary Manjeet Singh Calcutta said he had raised this issue when Aggarwal was appointed DC. “The holy city has had mostly Sikh DCs post-Independence. There have been non-Sikh DCs too, but they were posted for short durations. Amritsar is the biggest spiritual centre of Sikhism and receives guests from abroad. Therefore, its DC should be a Sikh who would be in a better position to acquaint the guests with various aspects of Sikhism.”
Former Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission Chairman Kashmir Singh Patti said: “As per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, the Amritsar DC presides over the first meeting of the newly elected members, but there is no clarity in the Act that the DC should be a Sikh. Technically speaking, it doesn’t make a difference.”
He said the Act would have to be amended if such a provision was to be made. He, however, said the Act was clear that only a Sikh should head the Sikh Gurdwara Election Commission and the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission. He said if there were objections from certain quarters, then the Gurdwara Election Commissioner could be asked to preside over the meeting.
- During the SGPC poll in 2004, Raminder Singh was the Amritsar DC
- During the 1996 election, Amritsar saw three DCs, KS Sidhu, AS Chhatwal, Amarjit Singh
- During the 1979 elections, JS Gill was the DC
- In 1965, Amritsar had Iqbal Singh and SS Bedi as the district head
- in 1960, when the second SGPC elections took place, Balwant Singh and HS Achreja were DCs