Gurdwara Prabandhak Board elections in Kashmir | HC orders status quo, issues notice to J&K govt

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Wednesday ordered “status quo” as on date with regard to elections to Gurdwara Prabandhak Board in Kashmir Division.

A bench of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul ordered the status quo while issuing notice to J&K government for reply within two weeks on a petition filed by Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee District Pulwama through its President S Kulwant Singh.

The Committee has challenged a notification for election issued on 17 February this year by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir as ‘returning officer’ to Sikh Gurdwara Prabandak Board Election, Kashmir Division by which Districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian, have been allotted one seat and Districts of Baramulla and Bandipora have been shown with two  seats.

The challenge has been made primarily on the ground that in District Bandipora there is no Sikh population or Gurduwara Prabandhak Committee, as such, there is no representation that would partake in elections from the north Kashmir district.

The committee submitted that seat of Pulwama has been shifted to District Bandipora, notwithstanding the fact that there is neither any Sikh population nor any elected Gurdwara Prabandhak Committe in the District.  At the same time, it said, District Pulwama has a huge population of Sikhs but this fact of the matter has not been considered

Advocate Mir Suhail on behalf of the Committee invited court’s attention to the notification dated 13 February 2023, issued by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, stating that it itself reflects and shows that there is no population of Sikh Community in District Bandipora.

As a consequence of which, he said, notice regarding District Bandipora requires to be scraped inasmuch as it would badly affect the rights of Sikh Community of District Pulwama.

“Having regard to grounds taken, relief claimed in this petition and submissions made by counsel for petitioner, a prima facie case is made out for grant of ad interim relief at this stage,” the court said and issued notice to government.

Sr AAG, Mohsin Qadiri, accepted notice on behalf of official respondents including Chief Secretary and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. 

He prayed for and was granted two weeks’ time to file reply as also to produce record relating to this case by the court. “In the meantime, subject to objections and till next date before the Bench, status quo as on date with regard to elections shall be maintained,” the court said, and posted the matter on March 15.

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