The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Election Commission of India on a plea seeking the party’s de-registration as it was allegedly violating the principles of secularism.
The notices, returnable by April 17, were issued by a division bench of acting Chief Justice Madan B.Lokur and Mukta Gupta on a plea by Balwant Singh Khera, chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Mission Probe, alleging that the party was actively participating in religious affairs and thus violating the basis of its registration.
“SAD got registered as a political party in 1989 on the basis of a false and fraudulent undertaking provided by the party to the Election Commission of India. However, even while providing this undertaking, in that same application it said it was constituted of members of the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the apex religious body of the Sikhs) as well as the DGPC (Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee),” Khera’s counsel Prashant Bhushan claimed in his submission in the court Friday.
“It (the Akali Dal) also clarified that it would continue to follow its old party constitution that only permitted ‘Singhs and Singhnis’ to join as members,” he said, adding that though the party was formed out of the SGPC in the 1920s as a religio-political party, but it has failed to sever its links from the Sikh religion and was very closely and publicly aligned with it even today.
“The Election Commission is fully aware of this fact which has repeatedly been brought to its notice over the last 10 to 12 years through innumerable petitions and representations. Yet by continued omission of its duty to remedy the situation, it has failed to uphold the fundamental rights of the citizens of India,” Bhushan contended.