Friday, July 19, 2024

Punjab Assembly eliminates undue control over telecast of Gurbani

The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday passed the Sikh Gurdwara (Amendment) Bill, 2023, with a thumping majority in the absence of the main opposition Congress, paving the way for eliminating the undue control over the free to air telecast of the sacred Gurbani from the Golden Temple.

Gurbani is the term used by Sikhs to refer to compositions of the Sikh Gurus.

All three members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BSP combine opposed the Bill that was introduced in the House by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who said only one channel (PTC) had control over telecasting the Gurbani.

“Now, this channel along with all channels would also get free feed of the live Gurbani,” he said.

Speaking on it, SAD legislator Manpreet Ayali said one channel shouldn’t have the exclusive rights over the live telecast of Gurbani.

“The SGPC should run its own channel. The government should not interfere in the SGPC affairs.”

He appealed to the government to reconsider its decision of tabling the Bill in the House. “It will set a wrong precedent and in the coming days, governments would start interfering in the SGPC matters.”

Wrapping up discussion on the Bill, the Chief Minister said the Bill aims at freeing the undue control of a particular family over the rights to telecast sacred Gurbani.

He said it was a paradoxical situation that the SGPC or the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee under the influence of a family that controls its affairs, had given intellectual property rights of telecasting the sacred Gurbani to a channel owned by them.

Mann questioned how these rights of Gurbani, which is repository of knowledge and faith, can be given to any channel.

The Chief Minister said the Bill is in no way interference in religious affairs, rather it is a simple step to ensure that Gurbani reaches every household.

He said in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, after section 125, section 125-A will be inserted for live telecast of Gurbani free of cost.

Mann said the Act stipulates that it will be the duty of the board (the SGPC) to propagate the teachings of the Gurus by making uninterrupted (without any on screen running advertisements, commercials, distortion) live feed (audio or audio as well as video) of the holy Gurbani from Sri Harmandir Sahib available free of cost to all media houses, outlets, platforms, channels, etc, whoever wishes to broadcast it.

The Chief Minister reiterated that as a humble and devotee Sikh, he is a votary of free to air telecast of the Gurbani across the globe.

He wondered how this was an attack on ‘panth’ as he was just opposing the control of a particular channel over the telecast of Gurbani, which is totally unwarranted and unjustified.

He said this move is not aimed at giving rights to any particular channel of government or of any single individual but it is aimed at spreading the message of Gurbani across the globe.

The Chief Minister asserted that the government is fully competent to amend this act as the apex court had already through a judgment ruled that this Act is not an interstate Act.

He said a single family had dominated in the affairs of the SGPC since long due to which an irreparable damage had been made to the Sikh ‘panth’.

Mann said playing a dirty game this family tried to encash the religious sentiments of Sikhs by giving exclusive rights of telecast of Gurbani to their blue eyed channel whereas no mention of word telecast or broadcast was there in the Act.

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