Monday, June 17, 2024

Punjab Cabinet approves amendment to 1925 Act for Gurbani transmission ‘free for all’

The Punjab Cabinet on Monday approved an amendment in the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 to make transmission of Gurbani from the Golden Temple “free for all”.

The Bill would be tabled in the special session of the Assembly for discussion and passing on Tuesday.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the apex religious body for Sikhs, reacted sharply to the move, asking the government not to interfere in religious matters.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said the resolution to make transmission of Gurbani is a historic decision aimed at ensuring the free-to-air telecast of sacred Gurbani from Sri Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar.

He said as per the Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act 2023, the telecast of Gurbani would be free-to-air in India and abroad. He said the broadcasters will have to ensure that no commercial is aired half an hour before and after the video or audio telecast of the Gurbani.

On SGPC’s allegation that the state government has no right to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925, Mann said the Supreme Court in its 2014 decision has made it clear that it’s not an inter-state Act but a state Act.

He said the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 has no word on broadcast or live telecast of Gurbani.

He said it was misused in 2012 for giving exclusive rights to air the Gurbani for 11 years to one TV channel owned by the Badal family.

“As a result, Sikhs have to subscribe to this channel which is expensive as ita┬┐s clubbed with three to four other channels. It should be free of cost,” he added.

Mann said now the SGPC is making the case for floating a tender for airing Gurbani but the Badal family may again get the exclusive rights through the tender.

Responding to the Cabinet decision, SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami said: “This (Gurdwara Act) can only be amended by the Centre as the Punjab government has got not right to do so.”

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