Gurleen Kaur vs State Of Punjab And Others on 7 August, 2009

Punjab-Haryana High Court
Gurleen Kaur vs State Of Punjab And Others on 7 August, 2009
             R.A. No.215 of 2009                        1

             In the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh.

                                           R.A. No.215 of 2009 In
                                           CWP No.14859 of 2008

                                           Date of Decision: 07.08.2009

Gurleen Kaur


State of Punjab and others

Coram:- Hon'ble Mr.Justice J.S. Khehar
        Hon'ble Mr. Justice Jasbir Singh
        Hon'ble Mr. Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal

Present: Mr. M.S. Rahi, Advocate

J.S. Khehar, J. (Oral).

Through the instant review application, the applicant seeks

review of the conclusions drawn in paragraphs 74 and 127 of the judgement

rendered in Civil Writ Petition No.14859 of 2008. The aforesaid two

paragraphs are being extracted hereunder: —

“74. We have considered the submissions advanced by the

learned counsel for the parties. Our attention was also invited

to some verses from the Guru Granth Sahib where reference

was made to “kesh/keshas”. We have intentionally not

extracted any of them herein. Some such hymns have been

referred to in the submissions recorded hereinafter as were

advanced by interveners who were allowed to address the
R.A. No.215 of 2009 2

Court. In all such verses cited before us, we came to realise

that reference to hair (“kesh/keshas”) was contextually different

from the issue which we have been called upon to adjudicate.

In our view, the Guru Granth Sahib is a treatise limited to the

expression of the moral and spiritual code of conduct for Sikhs.

The Guru Granth Sahib is also a guide/teacher/prayer for Sikhs

to lead them to salvation i.e. merger with God. The physical

aspects of the Sikh faith, in our view, can be rightfully traced

only from the “Sikh rehat-maryada” and from other preachings

of the “Sikh gurus” connected to the code of conduct in their

day to day life. It would be wrong, therefore, to look for an

answer to the controversy, whether or not, Sikhs are ordained to

maintain their bodily hair unshorn from the Guru Granth Sahib.

127. Having dealt with the historical background of the Sikh

religion, legislative enactments involving the Sikh religion, the

“Sikh rehat-maryada”, the “Sikh ardas” and views expressed by

scholars of Sikhism, we are satisfied that they all lead to one

unambiguous answer, namely, that maintaining hair unshorn is

an essential component of the Sikh religion. In fact,

maintaining hair unshorn can be treated to be a part of the

religious consciousness of the Sikh faith. It may be a matter of

surprise, that in our aforesaid conclusion, we have not referred

to the Guru Granth Sahib as the basis of our determination.

Having heard learned counsel for the rival parties, we arrived at

the conclusion that Guru Granth Sahib is a treatise, limited to

the teaching of, the moral and spiritual code of conduct to the
R.A. No.215 of 2009 3

Sikhs. The Guru Granth Sahib is for the guidance of Sikhs in

their pursuit towards spiritual salvation. It does not deal with

the code of conduct prescribed for Sikhs. The code of conduct

is strictly contained in the “Sikh rehat-maryada”, which should

be the primary basis for drawing conclusions in respect of the

instant issue. However, important inferences on the subject

also emerged from the other aspects referred to hereinabove.

Furthermore, reference to the terms “kesh/keshas” (hair) in the

Guru Granth Sahib was found to be contextually different from

the issue which we are venturing to determine. This aspect of

the matter has also been discussed above while recording the

views of Giani Harinder Pal Singh. Undoubtedly, the Guru

Granth Sahib does not make any reference to the terms

“sehajdhari”, “amritdhari” and “patit”. The clear inference,

therefore is, that the Guru Granth Sahib does not deal with the

issue which is subject matter of our consideration. There may

be some justification in the inferences drawn by Shri Gurtej

Singh (one of the interveners) from various verses of the Guru

Granth Sahib, yet it would not be incorrect to state, that the

issue whether Sikhs are ordained to maintain their bodily hair

unshorn, has not been expressly dealt with in the Guru Granth

Sahib. We are, therefore, of the view that it would not be well

founded to base our conclusions, in so far as the instant issue is

concerned, on the Guru Granth Sahib. We have also

intentionally not taken into consideration the views expressed

by the various interveners. Their views appear to us to be
R.A. No.215 of 2009 4

based on their personal beliefs, convictions and understanding

of the Sikh religion. Inspite of their individual achievements in

the field of Sikh religion, we were of the view that an attempt at

our hands to determine the correctness or otherwise of their

views, would be an exercise in futility, as we may have led

ourselves into controversies which are strictly not relevant for

the task in hand. In any case, there was sufficient unambiguous

material available with us to render a conclusion on the issue

(whether or not, keeping unshorn hair is an important aspect of

the Sikh religion?). In our view, the Gurdwara Acts of 1925

and 1971 are legislative enactments, which have withstood the

test of time, wherein “keshadhari” (a Sikh who maintains hair

unshorn) has been incorporated as the fundamental

precondition for being vested with the right to be included even

in the electoral rolls. The “Sikh rehat-maryada” not only

requires Sikhs to keep their hair unshorn, even an act of

dishonouring hair, is taken as a tabooed practice. An act of

dyeing one’s hair is treated as an act of dishonouring hair. The

fundamental of retaining hair unshorn is not only for adults, but

is also for minors, as adults are required to maintain the hair of

the children unshorn. The “Sikh ardas” also establishes the

same tenet, from the fact that the keeping hair unshorn is

mentioned twice in the “Sikh ardas”. Scholars of the Sikh

religion, be it Sikhs or non-Sikhs of Indian heritage, or

foreigners believing in a religion other than Sikhism, each one

of them has described the requirement to keep hair unshorn as
R.A. No.215 of 2009 5

fundamental to the Sikh religion. It would, therefore, not be

incorrect for us to conclude, that maintaining hair unshorn is a

part of the religious consciousness of the Sikh faith. The same

view was expressed in an academic exercise carried out by the

Punjabi University, Patiala.”

In sum and substance, this Court had concluded in the aforesaid paragraphs,

that the Guru Granth Sahib was a treatise limited to the expression of the

moral and spiritual code of conduct for Sikhs. And further, that the physical

aspect of the Sikh faith could be traced only from the “Sikh rehat-maryada”

and from other preachings of the “Sikh gurus”, meaning thereby, that the

same could not be traced from the Guru Granth Sahib. It is this aspect of

the matter, which according to the pleadings of the instant application, led

to a deep sense of sorrow in the heart of the applicant. So as to demonstrate

his viewpoint, that the conclusions recorded by this Court in the judgement

to the effect noticed hereinabove, were not in consonance with the reality of

the Guru Granth Sahib. The applicant painstakingly read through

paragraphs 4 and 5 of the application. So as to understand effectively the

entire submissions advanced by the applicant, we are extracting hereunder

paragraphs 4 and 5 of the application, lest it be felt, that the submissions

advanced during the course of hearing, have not been duly taken into


“4. That with respect, it is submitted, Guru Granth Sahib is not

‘a treatise limited to the expression of moral and spiritual code

of conduct of the Sikhs’, as many other subjects and thoughts

have been included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib for the guidance

of the Sikhs and other people. For example, Guru Nanak as a
R.A. No.215 of 2009 6

humanist, views the problem of religion, not as a problem of

God alone, but of man also. In Guru Nanak’s way of thinking,

all achievement of spiritual heights cannot be divorced from

struggle for achievement of a more human and just world. In

many Shabads of Guru Nanak, the focus is on social and

political problems of the people. In the ultimate analysis of

1430 pages of Guru Granth Sahib , it does not seem to be a

treatise limited to the spiritual and moral things alone, as Guru

Granth Sahib teaches the Sikhs also to be self-reliant, self-

respecting, self-confident, discriminating, socially responsible,

having a sense of unity and equality, productive member of

society, fully conscious of their religious, historical and

cultural heritage, Human Rights, Corruption and corruption in

justice delivery system, Environment and its protection, Merit

of the Rulers, Injustice and Duty of the Ruler to his subjects.

There is no doubt that there are large number of Shabads in

Guru Granth Sahib projecting the concept of egalitarianism and

humanism. The first proclamation of Guru Nanak was, ‘There

is neither a Hindu nor a Muslim’, but only a man – the central

peace of focus of his attention. In Japuji Sahib, Guru Nanak

said, ‘Nanak, Uttam Neech Na Koi’, laying down that all human

beings are equal. The same concept has been repeated in

various parts of Guru Granth Sahib. There are host of other

subjects, including the futuristic thoughts which are imbedded

in Guru Granth Sahib and are required to be explored for

further development of civilisation. The cosmic vision of Guru
R.A. No.215 of 2009 7

Nanak is limitless and no limit can be imposed on that.

5. That like the doctrine of Miri-Piri, the concepts of Rehat and

Gurmat are there in the Bani of Guru Nanak as contained in Sri

Guru Granth Sahib . About Rehat, Guru says, “Manmukh

Kathni Hai, Par Rehat Na Hoi’, (the perverse person preaches

piety, but himself practices it not, SGGS page 831). Similarly,

about Gurmat way of life, the Guru says ‘Gurmat Chaal

Nehchal Nai Dolai. Gurmat Sach Sehaj Har Bole’. (By

adjusting life-department in accordance with Guru’s teachings

may become stable and staggers not. By Guru’s instructions,

he instinctively repeats the true name of God. SGGP page

227). In the same way, Guru Nanak in Japuji says, ‘Amrit Wela

Sach Naam Vadyai Vichaar’, (Early in the morning utter the

True Name and reflect upon God’s greatness). These very

concept have been transformed into Sikh Rehat Maryada (The

Code of Conduct and Conventions) in a different language,

meaning thereby that every ideological aspect of Rehat

Maryada is rooted in the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. By

no stretch of imagination, it can be said that any ideological

part of Rehat Maryada has independent existence apart from

Guru Granth Sahib. There is a complete unity of spiritual and

temporal things in Sikhism and deeply rooted in Sri Guru

Granth Sahib itself. There is no possibility of separating the

two, as this doctrine is deeply rooted in Guru Granth Sahib.

The Sikhs take vak/hukam from Guru Granth Sahib for a

direction in their day to day life. Therefore, a Sikh’s life is
R.A. No.215 of 2009 8

governed by the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib in all


Having heard the applicant, we repeatedly enquired from him to

demonstrate by citing any verse of the Guru Granth Sahib, that our

conclusions to the effect, that the Sikh code of conduct could not be

determined from the teachings recorded therein, the applicant repeatedly fell

back on to the averments recorded in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the application.

Insofar as, the code of conduct is concerned, a perusal of the judgement

reveals great emphasis at the hands of the Sikhs, insofar as the five

“kakkars” are concerned. We invited the applicant to demonstrate even

from a single verse of the Guru Granth Sahib wherein any of the five

“kakkars” have been mentioned. Besides evading the question, reference

was always made to the averments made in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the

application, extracted hereinabove.

In the background of the factual position recorded hereinabove,

we informed the applicant, that the submissions advanced by him besides

being unsubstantiated, even otherwise, do not relate to the controversy

settled by this Court with the disposal of Civil Writ Petition No.14859 of

2008. To this, the applicant remarked that he was conscious of the fact,

that the pleadings in this application have no effect on the merits of the

case. This statement made by the applicant, to state the least, is most

irresponsible. The pleadings of the application also reveal, that the

conclusions drawn by this Court in paragraphs 74 and 127 extracted

hereinabove, were “unwarranted, tells the half-truth, confuses the distinctive

identity of the Guru Granth Sahib, misinterpreting, controversial and the

same strikes at the roots of theo-political (Miri-Piri) unity of the Sikh
R.A. No.215 of 2009 9

thought as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib”. These words used in the

application, to our mind, are a matter of politicisation of the issue, rather

than an honest effort to correct any mistake, that may have occurred in the

order passed by us. While dismissing this application, we consider it just

and appropriate to impose token costs in the nature of the “Sikh rehat-

maryada” on the applicant. He is, accordingly, directed to pay Rs.101/- as

costs. The aforesaid costs shall be deposited by the applicant with the Legal

Services Authority, Punjab, within one month from today.

CM stands disposed of in the aforesaid terms.

( J.S. Khehar )

( Jasbir Singh )

(Ajay Kumar Mittal)
07.08.2009 Judge

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