Government can’t appoint Nanded Gurudwara board members: SC

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, upheld the Bombay High Court's decision that the Maharashtra government can't appoint persons to run the Hazoor Sahib Gurdwara in Nanded and authorised the Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan, Nanded, to nominate four members to the statutory board for running the famous Sikh shrine.

The bench of Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and KM Joseph empowered Nanded's assistant charity commissioner to complete the inquiry within three months to decide who are genuine office bearers of Diwan and complete the process of nominations to the board within three months from the date of the judgment, authorising him to fix a date for the meeting of the Diwan and act as an observer in the meeting.

The assistant charity commissioner was also authorised to decide the members eligible to vote and told to approach the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court for directions necessary to implement the judgment.

The bench upheld the High Court quashing the state government's notification on June 21, 2019, nominating four members to the Gurudwara's board as the Nanded Act, 1956, allows only the Diwan to nominate and the state government cannot usurp this power of the Diwan.

The state government had earlier superseded the board running the Gurdwara and controlling its funds in July 2000, because of the dispute between two factions and put it under the control of the revenue and forest department. It has been conducting since then as if it has the authority over the management of the Gurudwara, as it even constituted an interim board on February 15, 2014.

The dispute over who was entitled to be nominated resurfaced in 2019 when multiple and conflicting nominations were made by the government, resulting in the present dispute.

The Apex Court had to go through the niceties of the law enacted back in 1956 by then Hyderabad Legislative Assembly, prior to the reorganisation of the states, to resolve the dispute as it lays down how the Nanded Gurdwara will be controlled through a board for its administration and a separate committee will run the management. It is called the Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Shri Huzur Apchalnagar Sahib Act, 1956.

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