STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey of J&K High Court on Friday directed concerned Deputy Commissioners to supervise and monitor the exercise of powers by the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committees and file the compliance by or before next date of hearing. The court directions came in a petition filed by Satinder Singh and Joginder Singh challenging the order of Revenue Secretary by virtue of which the tenure of existing Gurdwara Prabandhak Committees was extended by three months in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. While hearing the petition, Justice Magrey ordered that till next date of hearing the exercise of powers by the aforesaid committees in terms of the impugned notification shall be supervised and monitored by the concerned Deputy Commissioners. The petitioners are aggrieved of the notification issued by the Respondent-Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, bearing S.O No. 218 dated 13th of July, 2020, in terms whereof, the Government in exercise of the powers conferred by rule 63-C of the Jammu and Kashmir Sikh Gurdwaras and Religious Endowments Rules, 1975 and in suppression of all previous notifications issued on the subject, directed that the members of District Gurdwara Prabandhak Committees of District Shopian, Anantnag, Pulwama, Baramulla, Budgam, Kupwara, Srinagar and Jammu, elected in the year 2015, shall continue as the members of the aforesaid committees for a period of three months from the date their term has expired or till elections of these Committees are held under the Act and the rules framed there under, whichever is earlier, on the grounds detailed out in the petition with particular reference that the Rule 63-C does not empower the Government to exceed the term of members of office beyond period of five years and the only power available in terms of Rule 63-C is on noticing any difficulty regarding holding of elections, the Government may for reasons to be recorded in writing, that it is not reasonably practicable to hold elections to any Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Act and these rules, it may, by notification, nominate the members of the Committee and thereupon the provisions of the Act and these rules shall apply to the members so nominated in the same manner as they apply to the members elected under the Act and the rules, provided that the term of office of members of the Committee so nominated shall not exceed one year unless the Government for reasons to be recorded in writing, considers it necessary to extend the term for further period not exceeding one year at a time. The petitioners submitted that there is no scope for the Government for extending the period of committees in term of Rule 63-C. It is submitted that the notification is contrary to rule 63-C of rules, therefore illegal and unconstitutional. Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey after hearing petitioners Satinder Singh and Joginder Singh in person observed that before proceeding further, it has become necessary to seek response from the Government and accordingly S.S Nanda, Sr AAG available in the Court was served a notice and in response he sought time. Subsequently, one week’s time was granted to Nanda for filing the response and the case was listed again on 24th of July, 2020. “Since the Court has noticed the challenge made by the petitioners to the notification (Supra), on the grounds detailed out in the petition, therefore, prima facie, it appears that the Government has not considered the true interpretation of the rules, as such, it is left open to the Government to reconsider the matter in tune with Rule 63 C of the Rules, and take a decision”, Justice Magrey observed.
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