SC notice to Centre and Punjab on SGPC plea

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (UNI) The Supreme Court today issued notices on a petition against Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement striking down a punjab government notification, granting minority status to SGPC run educational institutions in the state.

The notices have been issued to the Centre, Punjab state, Sahil Mittal and others on petitions filed by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee(SGPC) and state of Punjab.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices C K Thakker and R V Raveendran, however, refused to stay the operation of the High Court judgement dated December 17, 2007, holding that there is nothing to show that Sikhs were not a dominant group in the state.

Petitioners in the High Court were the students, who had been denied admission in medical science courses in view of 50 per cent reservation granted to Sikhs in SGPC run medical colleges, which enjoy the status of minority institutions.

The students had challenged the validity of Punjab government notification dated April 25, 2006, under Section 2(f) of Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (regulation of admission, fixation of fees and making of reservation) Act 2006, which granted minority status to SGPC run educational institutions.

The High Court found that definition of minority under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India, cannot be overruled or changed through a state government act.

According to the petitioners in the High Court, Sikhs constituted 65 per cent population in Punjab and cannot be granted minority status.

The SGPC has, however, contended that different sects who worship and follow Sikh gurus cannot be called part of Sikh community and the High Court has committed a serious error in treating all followers of Sikh gurus as Sikhs.

UNI AKS/SC AE KP1700

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