HC stays official notification for conduct of Gurdwara Prabandhak Board elections across Jammu

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has stayed a notification issued by the divisional commissioner, Jammu, early this month for conduct of elections to the Gurdwara Prabandhak Board (GPB) across the division.

Hearing a petition filed by Satinder Singh on Friday, high court judge Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal said the Sikh Gurdwaras and Religious Endowment Act and the rules framed thereunder provide that the Board is a single constituent body and its members — 15 in all — can be elected by a single process both at Kashmir and Jammu divisions simultaneously and not otherwise.

“The divisional commissioner, Jammu, has issued the notification (on May 9) illegally by directing conduct of the elections in Jammu division only Subject to objections and till next date of hearing before the bench, the operation of the impugned notification shall remain stayed,” the judge said, listing the case for next hearing on May 26.

Singh had earlier moved a petition challenging the process of conduct of the elections to the Gurdwara Prabandhak Board issued in terms of notification on January 28.

“It has been brought to the notice of the court by the applicant, appearing in person, that the said process of conduct of the elections to the aforementioned Board was also challenged in Srinagar Wing of this Court in a writ petition in which a co-ordinate bench of this court (on February 22) has shown indulgence and granted status quo with regard to the holding of the elections to the board although in a different context.

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“The applicant appearing in person has further brought to the notice of the Court that after passing of the status quo order by the Srinagar Wing of this Court in the aforesaid writ petition, the process of election to the Board so far as it pertains to the Kashmir/Jammu Division in terms of Notifications (January 28) by the concerned Returning Officers of Jammu and Kashmir Division – the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu and the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir – was deferred,” the court said in its five-page order.

Further, the court was informed that the Board consists of 15 members, eight from Jammu division and seven from Kashmir division, which clearly shows beyond any shadow of doubt that the members are to be elected for both the divisions and the election process has to be a composite election process.

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